WB plans all-party panel to press centre

The West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee recommended sending an all-party committee to the centre to advocate the state's demand for a three-year moratorium on interest payment by the state government. In a statement in the assembly, the chief minister said that despite repeated appeals to the centre in this regard, 'nothing had happened so far'.

She urged the state commerce and industries minister Partha Chatterjee to lead the all-party delegation to press for the demand yet again.

'I have met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh more than seven times and the former union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee eight to 10 times to apprise them of the state's financial crisis and asked for a three-year moratorium on interest payments, but it was of no use,' Banerjee said.

She said that the burden of interest payments had now risen to Rs 25,000 crore from Rs 22,000 crore. She said that the government was not being able to carry out development programmes in the state due to paucity of funds. The chief minister also took exception to the centre's 'explanation' that the loans taken by the previous Left Front government were from outside. 'Why did the centre allow the state to do so. It cannot shirk responsibility now,' Banerjee maintained.

The chief minister's appeal for an all-party committee to the centre on moratorium on interest payments came amidst Trinamool Congress taking no stance with respect to the United Progressive Alliance presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee.

According to some political observers, the 'apathy' of the former union finance minister towards the state's 'just demand' was the reason behind the Trinamool Congress's opposition to his candidature.
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