Higher revenue still not enough: Bengal finance minister

Kolkata, Feb 11 (IANS) Confident of achieving the targeted revenue of Rs.31,000 crore this fiscal, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra Monday said the increased earnings would not ease the state's "phenomenal repayment" of loans burden.

Mitra said: "The revenue generated through tax collection will be Rs.31,000 crore (current fiscal) but is it enough when Rs.25,000 crore goes for immediate repayment (of loans and interest on loans)?"

Mitra was speaking at a pre-budget discussion with representatives of various chambers of commerce.

Mitra said he met union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram twice within a period of 15 days, and gave him statistics about the quantum of debt of the state government.

He also said the quantum of repayment, including interest on the loans, will rise in the next few years.

"While this year we paid about Rs.18,000 crore as interest on loans along with a repayment of Rs.7,400 crore, by the year 2019, the repayment alone would go up Rs.17,000 crore," Mitra said.

Mitra also said the government would continue its efforts of seeking relief on the loans from the central government.

"We will keep on saying it until we are able the break the ice. We are in a situation of a debt trap, but we are not sitting with our oars on the boat," he said.

He attributed the increased revenue to tax reforms initiated by the Trinamool Congress government, and added that there has been increased collection of taxes in all sectors - commercial taxes, excise, property taxes and a relatively small component from entry tax.

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