Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has engaged Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee to advise her government on economic situations and ways to tide over the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.
In his new role, he will lead the ‘Global Advisory Board on Covid Response Policy For Bengal’, a high-powered committee formed by Mamata Monday to rally expert advice. Other members include Dr Abhijit Chowdhury, a celebrated doctor.
“The committee will start its work soon. Dr Abhijit Chowdhury will coordinate,” Mamata said in an address to reporters at Nabanna, the state secretariat.
Professor Banerjee shared the 2019 Nobel for economics with with his economist wife Esther Duflo and American Michael Kremer.
Banerjee, who has Bengali roots, had offered to work for the state when he visited West Bengal earlier this year. The chief minister spoke to Banerjee last week about an awareness campaign for coronavirus and he agreed to help. As she announced the committee Monday, Mamata said the government will adhere to its recommendations. She also said she would hold a telephonic meeting with Banerjee Monday evening.
‘Already stressed by debt’
Pointing to the economic impact of the lockdown, the chief minister has repeatedly said the state is already debt-stressed and needs to pay Rs 50,000 crore to the central government. Mamata has also sought to point out that the central government has not released the state’s dues or the financial assistance promised for the November 2019 cyclone Bulbul.
A senior official in the state government told ThePrint that the details of the committee and its terms of reference were still being worked out. The committee may start conducting a survey on the economic situation in the state and involve industry leaders too, the senior official added.