August 21, 2014
Full transcript of WB CM`s keynote address at Singapore Business Summit
Ni Hao, Vanakkam, Namaste, Good Morning, friends!
As you are aware, I come from WestBengal, a state that was under the rule of a coalition of Left Parties for along time! We have come to power after bringing to an end the 34 long years ofrule that shunned change.
Today, the people of Bengal wantdevelopment, they want progress, they want peace and prosperity. And, ourgovernment, the government for ma, mati and manush,which in English would roughly translate as the Government forthe Mother, the Earth and the People, is committed to these aspirations of ourbrethren. We are committed for development that's sustainable and benefits alarger part of the society.
Since the time I have become the ChiefMinister, I have had many invitations from different countries. But I am not agood traveler! And I like travelling to the districts of my state to reach thegovernment machinery at the doorstep. I firmly believe that “people coming togovernment” is good but “government going to people” is even better!
This is my first foreign trip in 15years! For me, most time has been spent in political struggle for change and Ihave had no time left for travel abroad!
I chose to travel to Singapore becausefor me it is like a pilgrimage. Long years ago, Subhas Chandra Bose, we fondlycall him Netaji, a brave and heroic son of Mother India established the IndianNational Army here in
Singapore and gave his clarion call “Delhi Chalo”.
It is here that a memorial stands tocommemorate the heroic deeds of those brave soldiers. I visited the samememorial at Esplanade Park here to lay a wreath day before yesterday. I feltelated and fulfilled.
Singapore is only 4 hours away fromKolkata which is the closest metropolis of India to Singapore.
Kolkata is the Gateway to theNorth-East, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Also we now have helicopter serviceand night landing in Bagdogra in North Bengal so that connectivity toneighbouring states becomes easier.
My state is in the forefront of India'sLook East Policy and Singapore is therefore the preferred direction.
Today I propose to set up a BusinessFocus Centre in Kolkata to promote investment, trade and cooperation betweenSingapore and my state. The centre will work closely with the Indian mission inSingapore, different business chambers from both countries. Its mission will beto speed up proposals, opportunities and joint ventures. And I want to dedicatethis centre to a great soul from this part of the world. A man as tall as theHimalayas when it comes to progress, development and nation building.
Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Business andCommerce wlll be fully operational in 18 months. Every visiting entrepreneurwill be able to use its facility and the chambers would know they have arepresentation here. I have already extended my invitation to Honorable PrimeMinister yesterday to kindly grace the occasion of the inauguration and he hasagreed to consider it positively.
The relationship between our two greatcountries are crossing an important milestone as we speak. I am confident thatin the near future, our relationship will grow stronger and multi-dimensional.I am happy to be in Singapore at the onset of the Golden Jubilee of theIndia-Singapore bilateral relationship.
Singapore is the gateway to 10 countries- 6 of them advanced economies and four developing. Therefore, Singapore can bethe springboard for attracting investments and trade flows from these 10 majornations.
Singapore harbours the headquarters ofmany top multinational companies from all over the Asian continent and theAsia-Pacific. Among the world's largest investment fund portfolios like GIC andTemasek are domiciled here. Therefore, investments can happen in West Bengal byengaging with these companies and investment funds to invest in companies ofWest Bengal.
Let me tell you why Bengal makes good investment sense.
We realise that the bedrock ofdevelopment is good and transparent policies. Good policies bring in goodpractices. We have announced new policies for investment in different fieldssuch as textiles, small and medium sectors, Information and Technology toname a few. We have also streamlined our incentive policies and our thoughts onPublic Private Partnership.
Recently, we have announced a Town AndCountry Planning Policy to bring Kolkata upto the speed of modern development.
As we all know, human resource is themost important part of enterprise building. Our state in the earlier regimesuffered from unnecessary industrial strikes resulting in massive loss ofproductive man-days. Not any more. I am happy to share with youthat we have brought a stoppage to bandh! We have had zero man days lostin the last fiscal.
Every land is gifted in a certain way.
In Bengal, we are on a fast growthtrajectory today. Our intellect, accent neutral voice and high level ofeducation make us a potential investment destination for IT & ITES. Thereare great opportunities for electronic system designs, gaming, system designand manufacturing too. Global players have started coming in and other thansoftware and BPO, we are now receiving serious proposals for hardware sector.
Bengal is a beautiful state. Other thana desert, we have everything! Snow-capped mountains, riverine delta, fragileand unique mangrove ecology, long coastal lines, innumerable sea beaches, denseforests and pulsating metropolis. We have ports, airports and robust roadnetwork. We are working on a deep sea port too.
We have a thriving entertainmentindustry. The film industry in Bengal alone produces in excess of a hundredfilms every year! There are major investment opportunities in Tourism andEntertainment as well.
Micro and Small Scale industries are agreat strength area for us. Ready availability of skilled Workforce,Government's thrust and a large consumer market has yielded results. Nearly USD600 million credit has been extended which signifies a growth of more than 130%in April-December, 2013 over the corresponding period of 2012. This is thehighest in the country. Bengal has performed better than India in many waysduring the last three years. GSDP and in terms of growth in Agriculture,Industry and service sectors.
I am aware that two things you need tostart any industry are land and power. We have both of them readily available.You have earlier listened to my Industry and Finance Minister's elaboration onthis.
Allow me to share with you an importantthought I have been developing in my mind for some time. I know that to makedevelopment happen in a meaningful way, we need infrastructure. We need tourbanize keeping nature and ecology in mind.
To be aware of the global practices, Ipropose to set up a mentor group and a steering committee on infrastructuredevelopment in my state.
The mentor group would consist of fewvisionaries acclaimed globally from cities like Singapore and meet two times ina year, their busy schedule permitting, to guide the steering committee onplanning and future mapping. I understand the National University of Singapore[NUS] has excellent faculty and we would be happy to have their participation.
Education at all level is our motto. Inour state, from more than 200 engineering colleges, management institutes andnumerous it is, hundreds of thousands of students graduate every year that forman excellent workforce for modern factories.
In order to strengthen the relationshipbetween us, I propose to start a chair in the name of Lee Kuan Yew in CalcuttaUniversity for studies on Public Policy. I mentioned it to the Respected PrimeMinister yesterday.
I dream of a Bengal that's truly global.Local roots and global pursuits have been our motto behind the thought of BiswaBangla; our newest brand for the globe. From handicrafts to art … fromculinary delicacies to forgotten craftsmanship … the brand endeavors tocelebrate Bengal in every moment of life. I am confident that someday you willbe able to find a bit of Bengal wherever you go. I reach out to my NRI friendshere and guests from other nations to invest in this venture. Take Bengal tothe world… the world will love it, I assure you.
Today, a few tie-ups between companiesoperating in West Bengal and in Singapore happened a while ago. I am very happythat Changi Airports have raised their stake in BAPL. The Aviation Academy is agreat idea. This project is likely to be a winner.
We have waived aviation fuel surchargefor the new Changi airport. It will start operations before the end of thisyear. There is a major initiative in the real estate sector through the link-upbetween GIC and the premier housing finance organisation in India, HDFC,Information technology, Handicrafts and home furnishing, Amusement Parks andFood Processing are the other initiatives.
But this is only the beginning. Thisvisit of the officials and a high-power business delegation is only thebeginning of a long and sustained relationship between West Bengal andSingapore. I see this visit as the starting point of a fast-moving, substantiveand deliverables-driven relationship that is imbibed by friendship, warmth anddeeper cultural and socio-economic ties.
I have decided that my government'sofficers will come here and learn at Lee Kuan Yew Institute of Publlc Policy.
Like many big cities in the world, bothSingapore and Kolkata have a 'Chinatown' each. The one in Kolkata is rich inheritage and history. We are actively working on a plan to preserve andrejuvenate the area. We will take inspiration from Singapore in this regard.
I have taken much time already so I wonttake any more. But before I conclude, I would like to make one moreannouncement.
To facilitate your investment, we willopen a nodal office of our lndustrial Development Corporation in Singapore. Ishall leave someone amongst you, here amidst your society, to be with you 24X7.So that there is no loss in translation. So that you can reach us on atelephone call, within a short time.
So, come to Bengal.
lnvest in Bengal
Always be happy and keep smiling.