Bangla Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today inaugurated the Bengal Business Conclave at Digha. Held at the newly inaugurated Biswa Bangla Convention Centre, the two-day programme is being attended by industry representatives and diplomats from around 20 nations.
Here are the excerpts from her inaugural speech:
In Kolkata, there is a big convention centre. I am proud to say that it is one of the biggest convention centres in the world. It is a destination for industry leaders and everything related. Digha is not too far away from Kolkata. Road connectivity is there for tourism and industry. What we have started today will work for tomorrow. Adjacent to this convention centre is a hotel with 70 rooms. Corporate houses, industrial houses can organise seminars or their office meetings here.
Digha is a beautiful place. You will appreciate that within these 8 years, Digha has been developed like anything. I am proud to say that a promenade like Marine Drive is coming up. The road is already complete. Two bridges are being made. It is adjacent to Puri. Puri has a famous temple. A temple is also coming up here, the Mashibari Temple. A port is coming up at Tajpur.
Representatives of 20 countries are present here. They are from the UK, Poland, Australia, the Netherlands, Argentina, South Korea, Singapore, UAE, USA, Australia, France, Russia, Italy, Thailand, Germany, Japan, China, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Also present here are representatives of the United Nations and a team from the World Bank. The Asian Development Bank also gave us Rs 150 million for a project. We want to congratulate them. Industry depends on the economic situation. Economic situation is something very important nowadays.
After 34 years of Left misrule, our State has overcome the situation. Now if we see the GDP growth, in the second quarter of 2016-17, it was 8.87 %. But in the second quarter of 2019-20, the rate dipped to 4.55%. Industry growth has also gone down. In 2015-16 it was 9.58 %, which in 2018-19 dipped to 6.86%. Manufacturing growth rate also went down from 13.06% in 2015-16 to 6.94% 2018-19. Industrial production growth rate went down. In September 2018, it was 4.63% while in September 2019 it is -4.27%. FDI growth rate is also down from 22% in 2014-15 and 35% in 2015-16 to 1% in 2018-19. Even unemployment rate is also highest in last 45 years.
But I am proud to say that in Bangla, we have decreased unemployment by about 44%. It depends on attitude, working capacity and government policies.
Why you should come to Bangla? If you compare, you will see that Industrial production IIP of India was only 30.6% in 2018-19, exactly double that of India. Poverty rate decline in Bangla is highest among all the states. Through the social security scheme, poverty has declined by 6%. This means that we have worked hard. State Plan Expenditure is six times higher. Social Sector Expenditure has grown by 4.5 times. Physical Infrastructure Expenditure has grown by 5 times.
We are No. 1 in this country. We are the No. 1 in lending by banks to MSME, skill development, in rural connectivity and rural housing, in generation of 100 days’ work for the poor people, in expenditure outlet for 100 days programme. We developed in so many areas because of our intention and integrity.
We want you to invest in Bangla. Choose your place where you have the scope and future. We will get the opportunity to employ people. We are not only proud of Bangla because we stay here. Bangla is not only the gateway for Bangladesh, Bhutan and North-Eastern countries; it is the lifeline for the business of the nation. It is the lifeline for the Asian countries also. Bangla has potential enough to do business.
Anyone can say anything politically. But no one can deny the fact that we have done for Bangla in the last 8 years. Bangla is now a model for the industrial development and every other development. We don’t divide the people. We never utter a single word against any cast, religion or community. We believe in togetherness. We feel we are the same family.
More than 13 lakh people are already employed in the tourism industry. My young generation is getting employment. In the hotel industry, the investment was about Rs 39,800 crore. Every year almost 16 lakh tourists are coming up in Bangla. And 8 crore domestic tourists are coming up. Our airport has grown by 178 %. International passengers have grown by 135 %. You can see the highest growth rate of passengers at Bagdogra Airport.
Our workforce is very good. In the last 8 years we have set up about 300 polytechnic and ITI colleges. We have all that you need to invest. We agree to cooperate. We have Land Bank. We have also Land Utilization Policy. We have IT Policy and Tea-tourism industry too.Along with all these we have talented students. Our young generation is working from Uk to USA to NASA to Japan, everywhere.
I will request you to invest in Bangla. We promise to give you full assistance. More than 200 acres we have allotted for silicon valley, IT sector. Our transport sector is a very potential sector.
I have the readymade business in every corner of the State. You have to use it. Invest your money for the betterment of the future. I can tell you that the Bangla will be the NO 1 destination for the world one day.
One country had said, I will not take the name that the Bangla will be on NO1 within 20 years.
We have set up 26 helipads already. We are trying to make the Air connectivity better also. I will request my UK friends to give some direct flights. There was British Airways previously. Now we are giving the fuel subsidy too. I will request you, if there is any opportunity you can pursue the matter. Airports at Balurghat, Malda, Coochbehar Airports are also coming up. Airport in Durgapur is almost ready.
There are so many areas where you can invest your money. You can enjoy our hospitality and friendship. Bangla loves all of you.
Bangla is the cultural capital of India. You can experience good culture, good behaviour, good transparency and good accountability from us. Our credential is our credibility.
I welcome all my friends from 20 different countries , my diplomats, my counsellor general and all. Thank you so much for coming here. Enjoy our hospitality. You give us business, we will offer you our all support with smile. Our country is your country too.
The next summit will be on 15-16th December, 2020 in Kolkata. I extend my open invitation to all of you.