Mamata Banerjee Jabs Centre on Divestment After Rolling Out 'Populist' State Budget, Says Don't Need to Sell PSUs in West Bengal
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo Credits: IANS/File)

New Delhi, February 10: Attacking the Centre after rolling out a "populist" State Budget, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she did not have to sell stakes in any of the public sector undertakings (PSUs) to meet the expenditure. Her jibe was targeted at the Centre, which recently announced a renewed privatisation bid to sell stakes in major state-run bodies. West Bengal Budget 2020: TMC Govt Takes Cue From AAP, Announces Free Electricity Upto 75 Units.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Budget for 2020-21 on February 1, announced that the government would be selling off 100 percent stakes in Air India. She further drew criticism after declaring in the Parliament that the stakes in Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India - which holds two-third of the market share - would be sold to ensure "efficiency" in its management.

According to Mamata, the central government can take cue from West Bengal's Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who has ensured that the Budget remains "pro-people", while also ensuring that the government does not turn into cash-crunched.

"We have presented a people's Budget without having to sell any of the state PSUs. Simultaneously, we've spread smiles across communities. The Centre can, for a change, help make these smiles broader by working with the States. We'll let the people decide which Budget is better," the Bengal CM said.

See Mamata Banerjee's Tweet

Described by analysts as "populist", the West Bengal Budget 2020-21 proposes a slew of sops for the unemployed, backward communities and senior citizens. The Budget proposes Rs 1,000 stipend for those aged above 60 and lack financial resources to meet their expenditures. Pensions of Rs 1,000 would also be provided to members of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, if they are not covered under any of the state pension schemes.

Electricity would be provided free of cost in upto 35 lakh households, Mitra said, adding that the government would waive off electricity charges for all household connections for upto 75 units per quarterly consumption.

The Budget also proposes a loan of upto Rs 2 lakh for unemployed youth to encourage them to start their own business. The government would also be starting more than 100 MSME parks to boost employment opportunities, Mitra announced. For tea garden workers, agriculture income tax has been waived for the financial years of 2020-21 and 2021-22.