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August 21, 2014

WB CM to send officials to Singapore for hands-on experience

WB CM to send officials to Singapore for hands-on experience

A foundation course in administration atthe IAS training institute in Mussoorie or even subsequent career developmentcourses may not be sufficient for bureaucrats in Bengal. In a flash ofinspiration, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday suggested that theyget hands-on experience in Singapore for its seamless, quick anddelivery-oriented public management.

The Chief Minister's inspiration is notwithout reason – for seven consecutive years World Bank had ranked Singaporefirst globally for ease of doing business.

“Our government officials will come toSingapore and take training from the Singapore public administration.Thiscountry has really good public administration,” the CM said at an investors'meet at Singapore.

The island town has impressed Ms Mamata Banerjeewith its per severance and discipline.”Singapore is a beautiful country and sodisciplined. All the boys and girls are soft spoken, sober, and equally hardworking. This is something one should learn from them,” the CM -herself astickler for discipline -gushed.

She wants to emulate the work culture thathas attracted all top global brands to Singapore.She has even asked West BengalIndustrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) to set up a nodal office inSingapore to attract investment to Bengal. “A special officer will be stationedhere,” she said.

Mamata has even named the proposedSingapore-Bengal business centre after modern Singapore's architect Lee KuanWu, only a day after announcing the decision to set up a business facilitationhub. “I have already extended my invitation to Prime Minister L H Loong tograce the inauguration of the centre,” Mamata said. Apart from big brands, the ChiefMinister made a specific request for investment in the entertainment industry -close to her heart -apart from tourism, IT and ITES, logistics and relatedareas where Singapore has a global presence. She also urged big Singapore-basedinvestment firms to invest in Bengal.

While talking business and money, Mamatadidn't lose sight of Bengal's Singapore connect. Calling her Singapore trip apilgrimage, Mamata said: “Long years ago, Subhas Chandra Bose – we fondlycalled him Netaji – a brave and heroic son of Mother India established IndianNational Army here in Singapore and gave his clarion call 'Delhi Chalo'.”

Mamata pointed out that Singapore is only 4hours from Kolkata, which is the closest Indian metropolis to Singapore. “Thiscould be the gateway of India for you,” she said.

Industrialists shared their experiences tosell the Bengal dream. Executive director of the $10 billion ITC Ltd K Grantsaid their company has been in Bengal for 104 years and will remain in thestate for the next 100 years. Umesh Chowdhary , MD of Titagarh Wagons, said theadministration “is very supportive and has always stood beside us”. RP-SanjivGoenka Group chairman Sanjiv Goenka pointed out that he has not faced a singleman-day's loss in the last few years.

Prasoon Mukherjee, chairman ofSingapore-based Universal Success, who has large exposure in Bengal, said thatMamata impressed the industry captains in Singapore with her “candid andstraight-forward approach”. CEO of Changi International Lim Liang Song indicatedthat the firm's experience in Bengal is better than in Russia and Brazil. TILvice-chairman and CII national president elect Sumit Mazumdar pointed out thatBengal could be a manufacturing hub for entire South-East Asia.

The article was first published in The Times of India on August 21, 2014