New Delhi/Agartala, March 19 (IANS) Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who heads an 11-day-old BJP government in the state, on Monday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a special package to overcome a “severe financial burden” the new government is saddled with, an official said.
“Tripura Chief Minister met the Prime Minister and several other central ministers at their Parliament house offices and sought special financial package from the Centre to surmount the severe financial crisis of the state,” an official of the Tripura Chief Minister’s secretariat said.
The official, who refused to be named, told IANS: “We are yet to know what assurance the Prime Minister gave to the Chief Minister.”
Deb accompanied by Chief Secretary Sanjeev Ranjan and Principal Secretary L.K. Gupta had on Sunday night left here for the national capital to meet the central leaders.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Tripura on Sunday also published a white paper here specifying that the previous Left Front government left behind Rs 11,356 crore liabilities and fiscal deficits.
The official said that the Chief Minister during his four-day visit to New Delhi would also meet Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of State for PMO and Development of North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh and other central leaders, including BJP President Amit Shah.
The special package is also required to implement one of the party’s most populist pre-poll promises — to raise the salaries and allowances of the state government employees at par with the proposals of the Seventh Central Pay Commission.
The official said that at Parliament House, the Chief Minister was offered a rousing welcome by several Union Ministers for the BJP’s stunning victory in the state by defeating the Communist Party of India-Marxist led Left Front in the February 18 polls.
Deb also called on President Ram Nath Kovind.
Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Debbarma, who also holds the Finance portfolio, told the media that the new government is facing fiscal deficit and liabilities of Rs 11,356 crore. “We have inherited the financial burden from the previous Left Front government.”
To increase the salaries and allowances of the 2.18 lakh state government employees and pensioners in line with the proposals of the Seventh Pay Commission, an additional Rs 1,460 crore annual financial assistance is required.
The BJP government in its first cabinet meeting on March 10 decided to constitute an expert committee to be headed by former Assam Chief Secretary P.P. Verma to make suitable recommendations for raising the salaries and allowances of the state government employees and pensioners.
Verma was the Chairman of a committee that had suggested a pay hike structure for the 4.20 lakh Assam government employees and pensioners as per the recommendations of 7th pay commission.
“Despite the financial crisis, the BJP government would fulfil its pre-poll promises at any cost,” the Deputy Chief Minister added.
He said that the total expenditure of Tripura exceeded the budget estimates in the last three financial years (2014-15 to 2016-17) since the previous Left Front government failed to strike a balance between budget and expenditure.
“The new state government has adopted a three-pronged strategy to beat the fiscal deficit and crisis, besides ensure all-round development of the state and welfare of the people,” Debbarma added.
According to the Deputy Chief Minister, the three-pronged strategy includes balanced and restrained expenditure, increasing revenue and enhanced collection of revenue, and seeking central financial aid.