August 02, 2020
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A Messy Balance Sheet

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A Messy Balance Sheet
For a perennially cash-strapped state that has for years blamed the Centre for its financial woes, insolvent days seem near for West Bengal. With teachers in government schools being paid on the 25th or 26th of each month, one wonders when the West Bengal government will finally admit that it is bankrupt. The state’s finance minister Ashim Dasgupta blamed the Centre as usual, saying it had not paid Bengal’s Rs 700 crore dues.

The CAG report of 2000-01 shows that the state suffered a revenue loss of Rs 3,502.45 crore because of under-assessment and under-collection of levies. This was revealed after a random survey, covering only sales tax, excise and road revenue departments.

The report noted that receipts from land revenue and taxes were down by 37 and 67 per cent vis-a-vis budgetary estimates. In terms of unrealised interest of six departments alone, the state lost Rs 783.77 crore between 1996 and 2000. In other words, the financial mess could be tackled by improving revenue collection rather than blaming the Centre.

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