For debt relief, Mamata to bring India Inc to PM’s doorstep

Tuesday

Having so far failed to convince the Centre for a moratorium on interests on loans incurred by the West Bengal government, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will soon be making another fresh attempt at it. This time she will be taking a delegation of industrialists along with her to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to press for a moratorium on loan interests.

Announcing this at the inaugural ceremony of Bengal Leads, a three-day industrial summit organised by the state government that got underway on Tuesday at Haldia in East Midnapore, Mamata said, "We have asked for a date from the Prime Minister. We want a moratorium on the interest paid by us every month which comes to Rs 23,000 crore. They do not love us, they do not want us as I am not from a family with a golden spoon. But it is their duty to rescue us. Even 50 per cent of moratorium will do."

Later, speaking to The Indian Express, Saugata Roy, MP and adviser to the state government on matters of industries, said what they would seek from the PM was "financial justice". "Apart from the moratorium, we will request for exemption of various duties like import duty, disbursement of coal cess. If industrialists go there, it will carry extra weight," Roy said.

The CM took a serious note to the criticism of the summit failing to attract big industrialists. "A section of the media is staying in Bengal but pleading for Gujarat." She said it was unfair to compare the two states. "It has an edge over us in so many areas. For example, Gujarat has 17 ports while we have only two which also are under the central government. That state is larger than ours and its density of population is also lower than we have. Above all, they don't have a debt burden that we have inherited from the previous government. Why do you compare the two states?'' she said.

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