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August 16, 2014

Bengal CM in Singapore… Dr Amit Mitra speaks

Bengal CM in Singapore… Dr Amit Mitra speaks

Dr Amit Mitra is the Minister for Finance, IT, Industries and Commerce, Government of West Bengal

Question:What are the expectations from the Singapore visit of the Chief Minister?

DrMitra: We are going to Singapore, led by theHon'ble Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee. We are hopeful. You all will bepresent there too. You will witness the scenario there. I hope that you willpass on to the people of Bengal the message of budding relationship betweenBengal and Singapore.

Question:What is theUSP of West Bengal as an ideal investment destination?

DrMitra: In my speech in the State Assembly I havealready mentioned that after the new government came in, investments worth Rs78,000 crore have been implemented or are under process in the state. We havereceived investment proposals worth Rs 1.20 lakh crores.

In business terms, S0 phase is when theland that has been purchased by the industry and boundary wall has beencompleted. S1 means the factory is being built, S2 means machineries of theindustry have arrived. Similarly S6 means that commercial production hasstarted.

WB CM and Dr Mitra at Bengal Leads Summit, 2013

Theseare all new factories; some of them are projects that could not start off earlierbecause of problems. We solved those problems. For example, Hon'ble ChiefMinister inaugurated a cement factory in Salboni which has started production.It was an investment worth Rs 600 crores. Another factory of Siddharth Birla isready for production and was inaugurated in Barjora few days back by the ChiefMinister.

Question:What is the real situation of new investment inthe state?

DrMitra: At S0 level is Anil Ambani's cement plant atRaghunathpur. Emami Group is also in this level for their Rs 500 crore cementplant. A company called Matrix, a fertilizer plant, made an investment ofaround Rs 5500 crore in the State. Their project was stalled due tounavailability of water and road connection with the highway. We have addressedthose issues and they are ready for production. Another company, HR Johnson waswaiting for road link to highway. We completed that and they are now at S4level. These are not small or medium industries.

There are two types of companies who arehere right now. One, the new ones that are coming in and the second category isthose who were stuck due to lack of infrastructure, some from 2006. There weresome who took land above the land ceiling which was treated as vested land. Wehave studied those cases and those who were seriously interested to go aheadwith the industry have given them the 14Y clearances to go ahead.

Singapore industrial city

Question:The State hasan image of being unfriendly towards industry…

DrMitra: The State may have an unfriendly image butone has to look how this image came into being. We are aware that there hasbeen a capital flight for the last 34 years. 56,000 to 58,000 factories wereclosed in West Bengal, which included small, medium and heavy industries. Whenwe came to power, around 1 crore people were looking for jobs or wereunemployed. When I placed the figures in the Assembly, I was challenged. Ihanded out printed documents, statistics from the DPR etc. I challenged the Oppositionbut there was no Privilege Motion against me. 

There has been huge loss of mandays in thepast due to strikes and gheraos. In ayear, the mandays lost amounted to 76 lakh. That amounts to half mandays lostin the whole country. From that we managed to reduce the loss to 5020 last yearand in 2013-14 it was zero. There has been a huge change in work culture.

Question:What are the policies on land for industries inthe State?

DrMitra: We have 23 Industrial Parks in the statebelonging to WBIDC and 16 parks belonging to WBIIDC. We have Tata Metalics andTata-Hitachi in the Kharagpur Industrial Park. Matrix and HR Johnson are atPanagarh Industrial Park. Birla cement is at Barjora Park. We have around 7000acres of land. Of these, 4000 acres of land is fully developed with readyinfrastructure. In the last few standing committee meetings more then 10-12allotments of land had been made, each time. In the Ankurhati Gems andJewellary Park, 1 lakh 25 thousand sq ft. were availed by 32 companies in justthree months. We are now on the process of building the tower II to provideanother 1 lakh 25 thousand sq ft of space.

Industry in Bengal

Question:What happens to those who need landover 100 acres?

DrMitra: There are two or three companies that needmore than 1000 acres of land. The Goaltor Park has 1000 acres of land. That sort of land will need an investment ofRs 30,000 crore. Such land is needed for steel plants or such big industry. 90%of the industries in India need land to the tune of 10 acres to a maximum of100 acres. The Koreans visited the Hardware Park in Naihati and Falta. We aresetting up 8 IT parks for more investments. Six have been approved by theCentral Government for Ground Field Park.

The Land Bank is in place to provide allinformation. If you want to buy more than 24 acres of land in this State, itwill be under Land Ceiling Act. Permissions may be sought from the Government.An affidavit is needed from the willing sellers. Nobody will be allowed to takeland forcibly. Many have taken landfollowing the rules.

There is the concept of Private IndustrialParks. Those who are really doingindustries and have set up private industrial parks in the past may come to us.We can put the matter in the Cabinet. Land is not an issue.

Commercial boom at Rajarhat

Question:There was an IT boom in the State. Has it gonedown or is it still there?

DrMitra: Thebiggest IT contract in West Bengal, worth Rs 140 crore, was done throughtransparent competitive bidding and was awarded to Tata Consultancy Service.This relates to handing over the money of panchayats using bio-metric system offingerprints. They have committed 20,000 additional IT professionals. They aresetting up a campus on 40 acres of land. Cognizant is recruiting 5000 people.HSBC has the back office of its entire international work in Kolkata where 4000people are employed. In 2013-14, IT export providing of the state has increasedby 18% compared to 2012-13. The total export from West Bengal now stands at Rs63,000 crore, which has increased by 12-13% which amounts to USD 10.5 billion.The Federation of Indian Exporters Association met us and said that they willdouble the amount within 4 years to USD 20 billion.

The person who runs the biggest shoemakingindustry, Mr Rafiq Ahmed met me. He handles 20 international brands. We aresetting up a pilot plant to employ 2000 people on leather garment manufacture.Works are already on in Gayeshpur near Kalyani. We have been making bags and gloves; we have now moved to shoe uppers,shoes and leather garments.

Infosys will definitely come to Bengal.They will have to fit the business model. There is TCS, there is Wipro andthere is Cognizant. So Infosys should definitely come. The Attrition Rate inWest Bengal is 10%; some are saying that it is as low as 3-4%. The NationalSurvey is saying that the state is in number one place in productivity of ITprofessionals. Such business opportunities shouldn't keep Infosys out for long.

Earlier for IT, it was STPI, not SEZ.According to our manifesto, SEZ is a land plaque. The Central Government isrethinking on the issue. IT needs lesser amount of space, so it was STPI. Thiscontinued for 5 years with one year extension. There are people who bought SEZland at lower price and sold it to others making huge profit. We have adefinite policy on land. If there is market opportunity, investments will come.

Singapore beckons…

Question: The controversy that happened with RatanTata… He later said that he was coming via Rajarhat and had seen thatroute only. Has it affected the image ofWest Bengal?

Dr Mitra: The thing is, Ratan Tata is an iconic figure,he is respected by all. Suddenly hecommented may be due to mis-information, as maybe the news is not reaching himor maybe he has forgotten that the route from airport to the city, thesurrounding lands , he did say there are lot of activities, what activities?Buildings are being constructed – maybe he did not realize Tata Memorial CancerCentre is on that route. If he is looking for factories there, then hisinformation is not correct, maybe inadvertent error but the trouble is aniconic figure like him, when he says something like this, despite it beingwrong, the media made it look as if instead of Airport to Rajarhat area, theinvestment is not happening in whole of West Bengal. Now if you snatch such acomment from a person like him and create a false picture, it will hurt the respectof the people of West Bengal. That iswhy I replied back. He tweeted hiscomment on it and then I emailed him. Heis respected by all so it is expected he will know it that here factoriescannot be built, for that he has to go to Kharagpur, Panagar , Goaltor orBarjora. I will expect that now he has realized that like when he is travelingfrom Mumbai Airport to his residence he does not get to see factories along theroad. The matter is closed; let us notdiscuss about the same any more as he now must have been informed.

WB CM with the Industry Minister

Question:I would like to ask you aboutfactories getting closed. In your tenurealso factories are getting closed. Doyou have any policy, any specific plan?

Dr Mitra: I think I will reply you with an example,Jessop & Co. It is a big brand name. It was lying closed. A few days ago you have seen it hasreopened. Our Labour Minister, has takena big initiative, I have helped him. TheMP of that area, Saugata Roy and the Union President – three of us went intothe factory and met all the labourers. Thefactory has re-opened. I hope, citingthe examples of Jessop, New Central Jute Mills and two other Jute Mills whichhave reopened, now slowly we have toreopen other factories and for that we need long hours of discussions . There are lot of problems and we have ofsolve those problems. Our labours haveproblem, we have to solve those, so that they can work with their heart andsoul with confidence. If anyone conductsJessop's case study you will see after how many hours of discussion, aftersatisfying the labourers, saving their self interests, after looking into theprofitability of the entrepreneur, wenow opened this. This is a model, themodel you cited, every factory has a different history and now we have to openeach one by setting up a model like this slowly. Maybe it will not be possible to reopen58000 factories, inclusive of small, middle, big sizes but once a brand likeJessop reopens, it gives a different mental impact.

Question: It is a factthat small and medium factories generate maximum employment but for over allbright picture of the state's industrialization how are you balancing thefactors.

Dr Mitra: You have rightlypointed out correctly but let me tell you, firstly, regarding small and mediumenterprise, West Bengal is no.1 as per this year's record and what is it? Youknow Banks give loans to small and medium enterprises, in every state and thisyear West Bengal has become no.1 in growth with 105% increase in small and mediumenterprises. What does this mean? Banks will never lend money to companieswhich are not feasible. So these are feasible and labour intensive too as unitper capital. Now if you take Gujarat,the Bank lending has increased in 34% in small and medium. So we have gone far ahead. Small and medium is not standing alone allthe time as some make final products like buckets, fans etc, those are directand many others are ancillary. For example the companies making tiles for HRJohnson, Multinational Corporation, in Panagarh Park, they ask for a lot ofinput, like Matix, they require inputs also for making fertilizer, Himani,Emami or Punit Dalmia making cement are looking for a lot of input andancillaries. The one with hightechnology, with Siddharth Birla has built, he himself has informed the ChiefMinister that though the no. of employees in the factory are less, mostlyengineers but I need 250-300 inputs from ball bearing and various other smallsmall things for which for my factory the outside employment for small andmedium enterprise will increase many fold. Some Small and Medium factories dodirect business those are stand alone and some in collaborative format,supplying inputs, we have studied this model so in 105% increase in lending bythe Banks is the reason for these two formats of industries in West Bengal.

Jessop reopened after WB Govt intervention

Question: What is the USP of West Bengal as per you inIndustrialization. The main USP which will attract some to this state?

Dr Mitra: The main USP isPower. For any type of industry yourequire electricity. In most states there are Power deficit. In West Bengal there is none. You will be happy to hear that today we are apower surplus state and we can provide power to any industry.

We are alsoexpecting the requirement will go up and so we are installing 2500 MWadditional generating units are ready. In November we will get on stream 250 MW and two more units fromSantaldih. You will be happy to know DVCwill make Ultra Mega Power Plant that means units generating 650 MW, cheaperand ecologically good. The phase one isready and production started and for Phase II they have invested anotherRs.10,000 crores. Now why have they comehere? You know NTPC, their land has beencleared and they have started working, why are they coming. The reason is they know that in West Bengalin next few years the industrial demand for power will increase and they willbe able to supply. If you see Korea,they had installed capacity of 300% more than requirement of power generation,the whole world then said it was waste of money, but in 8 years the surplusrequirement was covered for industrialization. So I would reiterate that todaywe are power surplus and we expect , more industry will come and we willrequire more MW and for that generation is being prepared as per plan.

Question: We are going to Singapore to bring? Are we going togive something there too as the Chief Minister has recently said we will give Tulaipanji rice, the bags made by women's cooperatives in South Dinajpur tobring it in front of International Audience. What is this concept?

Dr Mitra: See, I have told you when you will be with usyou will get to know the whole concept. You must be knowing that Singapore is a central area from where variousthings go to various places. Many company head quarters are located inSingapore, who do not make anything in Singapore . As you will be with us youwill see with your own eyes, hear with your own ears, make the people in Bengalhear how a close interconnection is being developed between Singapore and WestBengal, you will get to know later.

The leader of Bengal – CM Mamata Banerjee

Question: Singapore will be the Chief Minister, MamataBanerjee's first foreign trip. She isgoing to attract investment and now there is no doubt that the whole state islooking upto her eagerly. We want her success and from you we seek two lines ofinspirational words…

Dr Mitra: Let me tell you I am an optimisticperson. I have come leaving everything,leaving my job at Delhi, my international career, to become a soldier of MamataBanerjee. I have come as Ms MamataBenerjee after 34 years have defeated the Communists through herstruggles. Now she has gone to construction. I am next to her like a small soldier. I am hopeful, I feel be it Singapore or anyother country she goes , she will go prepared as per her habit. You will be there and convey to the people ofBengal that we have seen with our owneyes how can a synergy be created.

Transcript courtesy: An interview of Dr Amit Mitra with Anjan Bandyopadhyay, 24 Ghanta