Aday after Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi made a scathing attack on Mamata Banerjee government accusing it of ‘throttling democracy’ and running a ‘syndicate raj’ in Bengal on Monday, the 15th Finance Commission chairman Mr N K Singh on Tuesday lauded the same government for making ‘enormous progress’ in Bengal during the past few years.

Mr Singh, while addressing the Press at the state secretariat Nabanna after the 15th Finance Commission meeting, with the chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee, finance Amit Mitra and senior officials including chief secretary Mr Malay De on Tuesday said, “During the past few years, West Bengal government has made an enormous progress on macroeconomic parameters, debt management, GDP growth and own tax revenues.”

In addition to these the state government has made significant development in health and education in terms of its long term economic growth, Mr Singh added. “Today, we had an intensive discussion with the chief minister, finance minister and chief officials of the government. The chief minister has made a very detailed set of presentations, comments and observations in connection with the growth of the state. They have brought out a very forceful need like large legacy of debt overhang issue,” the 15th Finance Commission chief added.

“We would explore options within its mandate so that it does not remain a permanent drag on the state’s economy,” according to him. Bengal chief minister has been seeking loan waiver and generous central government funds for the state and met the Prime Minister last year on the issue.

The state has a total debt around Rs 3.40 lakh crore that is one of the highest as compared with other states. Mr Singh has assured to redress the debt overhang issue saying, “We will redress it in such a manner that it won’t become a permanent drag on the economy of the state.”

On the issue of Terms of Reference (ToR) that has been determined by the President Mr Ram Nath Kovind, the commission would ensure that performance is not penalised in any way and efficiency and equity rewarded. Mr Singh has also appreciated the Mamata Banerjee government’s success in generating jobs in the state.

“There has been a huge creation of jobs as far as Bengal’s economic growth. We have also noticed developments in IT and leather industry for creating jobs. Our views relating to Tuesday’s meeting will be recommended in a report to the President,” he said.

Miss Banerjee said that the state government is expecting the commission to consider the debt restructuring proposal. “It was a good discussion on all sectors like industry, agriculture etc. Our expectations are high,” she added.