January 8, 2016
Spectacular start to Bengal Global Business Summit
Today, West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the Bengal Global Business Summit at the Milan Mela ground in Kolkata.
The summit began with the screening of a four-minute documentary on Bengal. Finance and Industries Minister Dr Amit Mitra acted as the emcee. The Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee felicitated the delegates on stage. Industry delegates have come from 25 countries, besides bigwigs from all over India, and includes political delegates like the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Tshering Tobgay, the British Minister of State for Employment, Priti Patel, the Chief Minister of Delhi and four prominent Union ministers.
The welcoming address began with the Chief Minister saying, “It is our pride to welcome you all to Bengal and India. We are all one. We believe in unity in diversity.” The winning personality of the Chief Minister was there for everybody to savour.
She was full of admiration for the federal structure of India, saying, “In a federal structure, if a State progresses, the country also progresses; just like in a joint venture.”
Then the Chief Minister went on to give concrete figures proving how West Bengal has progressed better, or even far better in some cases, on various economic parameters. West Bengal has far exceeded India in growth of gross value added (GVA), industry and agriculture. Its per capita income is double that of India.
Some of the figures mentioned by Ms Mamata Banerjee are:
- West Bengal’s GVA growth is 10.5% while India’s is 7.5%
- The State’s per capita income is 12% while India’s is 6%
- West Bengal’s tax collection has increased by 200%
- The State’s capital expenditure (asset creation) has increased by 601%
- West Bengal’s agriculture and rural development expenditure has increased by 547%
- Bengal’s Plan expenditure has increased by 311%
- Bengal’s physical infrastructure has increased by 330%
She continued by mentioning the win-win position of West Bengal with respect to its location too – it is the gateway to the North-East, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Among the industry-friendly initiatives of West Bengal, the Chief Minister mentioned the following:
- Creation of land map, land bank and land use policy
- Making 5000 acres of land available for industry
- Creation of a power bank, West Bengal being a power-surplus State (she mentioned the fact that load sheddings are a thing of the past, too)
- Private companies providing skill development training
- Increase in industry in 2014-15 in West Bengal standing at 8.34%, as against 5.6% in India
- The State’s no-bandh policy under the Trinamool Congress Government reducing man days lost from 78 lakh to zero
- In fact, man days created has gone up, with 67% employment being generated in the last four years since the present Government came to power
- Tax-free fuel for airlines
- A new airport in Andal
- A deep-sea port coming up in West Bengal in partnership with the Union Government
- India’s biggest coal block coming up in West Bengal, where SAIL is also expanding
- The State having a robust public-private partnership (PPP) policy; investments in the road sector being particularly mentioned
- Manufacturing of solar plant-related equipment being made VAT-free
For a State to develop, social sector developments are as crucial as those of industry. In this aspect too, West Bengal is shining. The Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee mentioned in glowing terms the State’s achievements. Among them are the following:
- 35 lakh girls enrolled under the Kanyashree Scheme
- The Sikshashree scheme for SC/ST students
- The Sabuj Sathi Scheme to provide 40 lakh high school students with bicycles
- 7 crore, out of the State’s population of 9 crore, to be provided food security
- 41 super-speciality hospitals coming up
- Medicines and beds at government hospitals being made free
- Under the Centre’s Swachh Bharat programme, three out of the top four performing districts in India are from West Bengal
- West Bengal has received the Krishi Karman award from the Union Government for the last three years for achievements in agriculture
- 153 interactive sessions between the Chief Minister and block officials, termed CMO-to-BDO meetings, to learn about issues and achievements first-hand
- The Government of West Bengal setting up 15 universities and 250 polytechnic colleges
The Chief Minister is keenly aware of the knock-on effect of a well-developed West Bengal. As she mentioned, if Bengal develops, so would neighbouring states like Bihar and neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, with which the West Bengal has a lot of cultural similarities. In the same vein, she thanked the Sheikh Hasina Government of Bangladesh for sending a delegation to the Bengal Global Business Summit. She mentioned the fact that the State’s relation with Bhutan is very cordial, and extended a very warm welcome to the country’s Prime Minister to the summit.
Work based on several of the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed at last year’s annual business summit has already started. In the meantime, the Chief Minister mentioned her pet project of developing six smart cities, each of which would be a theme-based city. A lot of opportunities for investments lie in these projects too.
She was very happy to mention that current heads of leading industry organisations like the CII, ASSOCHAM and FICCI are from Kolkata.
Ms Mamata Banerjee ended her triumphant speech by asking for investments from all types of industries – from small-scale to medium-scale to large-scale. The Chief Minister stressed that the State Government would provide all forms of help to enable rapid growth of various industries; as a rejoinder to which she said, “Your (the industrialists’) presence has boosted our spirits. Your presence has given us a roadmap.”
She encapsulated the State’s progress in all sectors in recent years through her slogan, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow and the world thinks day after tomorrow.”
The Chief Minister displayed her trademark charm when she concluded by saying, “Treat Bengal like your home. We are like your family. Here feel like you are the host and we are the guest.”