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MGNREGA funds: Centre trying to bypass WB govt

MGNREGA funds: Centre trying to bypass WB govt
The Bengal government will oppose the Centre’s move to transfer money directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), considering it an attack on the state’s autonomy and the federal structure of the country.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a high-level meeting in Nabanna  on Wednesday where all senior ministers and officials, including Chief Secretary Basudeb Banerjee, were present. Sources said that the Chief Minister expressed dissatisfaction over the Centre’s decision.

After the meeting, State Finance minister Amit Mitra and Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee held a press conference and explained the usual process of disbursing money. 

The Centre sends the money to the state Finance Department, which disburses it among the beneficiaries through the Panchayat Department, Mitra said. 

“The move of the Centre attacks the state’s autonomy. Moreover, the state government prepares a budget and tables it in the Assembly. We are accountable to the legislature. But this move is against the federal structure. So, we are writing to the Centre in very strong words to clear our stand,” Mitra said, adding that this is not only a problem of Bengal, but a cause of concern for many other states. The Bengal government will contact other states which have raised objection against the Centre’s move.

As per the decisions taken in Thursday’s meeting, the state government has also decided to initiate financial reforms in 25 departments, which would increase the income of the state government without any new tax on the people. 

Sources said that the state government would identify unused land plots under different departments and put them to use to augment the state government’s income. Also, govt departments have been asked to prepare their project costs in such a way that they do not see cost overruns midway the project.

The state government will also urge big industries to make their arrangement for water supply for industrial purposes. For this, the state government has recommended measures like rain-water harvesting, sources said.
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