State finance grim: RBI

Debt Subbarao meets CM, FM

RBI Governor D Subbarao on Thursday painted a grim picture of West Bengal's finances, saying that the state of public finances was poorer than most of the states in the country. "West Bengal's public finances are weaker than most states of the country. The RBI recognises that," he told mediapersons after RBI's central board meeting here.

He said the debt-stressed government was borrowing from the market at rates higher than the national average by 10-15 basis points. The government has raised Rs 14,000 crore during the first eight months of the current fiscal and its borrowing limit was depleting.

Pointing out that not a single district of Bengal was among the 51 districts selected nationwide by the Centre for implementing the direct cash transfer scheme from January 2013, Subbarao said: "This is clearly an indication that the state is lagging behind in providing direct cash transfer compared to other states where the method was introduced much earlier."

He later met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for over 30 minutes at Writers' Buildings. After the meeting, at which Finance Minister Amit Mitra was also present, Subbarao refused to comment on what transpired between them. "I have already briefed the media. I have nothing more to say," he said.

Mitra, too, refused to comment. Stating that he would stress on banks for more coverage of rural Bengal, Mitra said: "About 27,700 villages of 37,000 still remain uncovered by bank branches".

Mitra said the RBI wanted the credit-deposit ratio to be increased to 68 per cent from the current 63 per cent.

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