Panel looking into Mamata ultimatum: Mukherjee

Washington, April 22: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has asked a government panel to look into West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ultimatum to the centre for a moratorium on the cash strapped state’s interest payments.

Banerjee, who had Saturday given a 15-day ultimatum for a 3-4 year moratorium on interest payments amounting to about Rs. 220 billion (Rs. 22,000 crore) on loans running into Rs. 2,000 billion (Rs. 200,000 crore) was going to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh May 4 to discuss the issue, he told reporters here Sunday.

“After she meets the prime minister, what is her scheme of things would be known. Then we would have to see,” Mukherjee said. “But, already I have instructed the committee under the chairmanship of Expenditure Secretary to look into it and make necessary recommendations.”

The finance minister, who represents West Bengal’s Jangipur constituency in Lok Sabha said the 13th finance commission had identified Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal among debt-stressed states and he had appointed a committee to look into how their problems could be tackled.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at