West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra.
Highlighting the “severe financial distress” being faced by states due to lower revenues and higher expenditure for tackling COVID-19, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra has written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman raising concerns over lower-than-expected release of funds by Centre as part of grants under 15th Finance Commission.
Mitra, in his letter, said the state had requested advance release of revenue deficit grant under 15th Finance Commission amounting Rs 5,013 crore for April-June, with monthly installment of Rs 1,671 crore each. However, the government has released only Rs 417 crore for April “without taking into cognizance the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis”. “This is most disappointing, if not shocking, at this critical hour of need to fight COVID-19 and disburse committed expenditures,” Mitra said.
He further asked for release of pending GST compensation payments and reiterated the state’s demand for raising the FRBM limit for state to 5 per cent from 3 per cent.
The Centre on Friday had released a total of Rs 17,287 crore in grants to states to enhance their financial resources during the COVID-19 crisis.