Kolkata, Feb 18: Countering repeated allegations from the Trinamool Congress government that the erstwhile Left Front regime has rendered the state debt ridden, former finance minister Asim Dasgupta Tuesday claimed that it was drawing higher amounts of loans from the market.
Referring to the last full year – 2010-11 – of the Left regime to buttress his point, he said the Left Front government could have drawn loans of Rs.12,500 crore in 2010-11, but only chose to take Rs.9,500 crore – the sixth among the bigger states.
In contrast, the Trinamool government of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee drew market loan of Rs. 17,500 crore in the around 10 months it was in power in 2011-12 after winning the assembly polls in May 2011.
“In loan amount, it was the highest among all the states,” said Dasgupta, a renowned economist and doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dasgupta said while the Left Front had left a loan burden of Rs.1.92 lakh crore, as per the government’s projections, the amount will shoot up to Rs.2.75 lakh crore by the end of next year.
“This shows whatever loan we had taken, this government is drawing much more,” he said.
Since coming to power, Banerjee and other government ministers have been going hammer and tongs at the Left Front for the large debt it drew during its rule.
State Finance Minister Amit Mitra raised the issue while presenting the budget for 2014-15 fiscal Monday.
“A huge sum of Rs.69,065.81 crores were cut off to pay for the sins (loans taken) of the Left Front government during 2011-12 to 2013-14.
“Imagine how many roads, bridges, schools, colleges, water works could have been built with this money, how many backward and minority community youth could have found a new life! Common people will never forgive the Left Front Government for denying them these great opportunities,” said Mitra.
Dasgupta, who held the state’s finance portfolio for 24 years at a stretch from 1987, dismissed the current regime’s claim that it was not getting any relief from the central government on its outstanding loans.
“The repayment of the loans on small savings has been extended upto 20 years. The interest has been reduced to 7.50 percent. So what this government claims is not correct,” said Dasgupta, a state committee member of Communist Party of India-Marxist.
Dasgupta also wondered why the state government was not asking for its dues of Rs.7,000 crore from the central government on account of coal royalty.