WB CM invites David Cameron to revisit Kolkata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has invited British Prime Minister David Cameron to revisit Kolkata soon, describing the city “a true getaway to the east”.

“My message for the British PM is that he must visit Kolkata again soon and see that it is truly the gateway to the east,” she said in response to a letter from Mr Cameron apologising for not being able to meet her in London due to his tour of South East Asia.

“I am sorry that my travel plans mean I will not be in London to see you in London…I fondly recall our meeting in Kolkata in November 2013, when we discussed the positive UK-West Bengal bilateral cooperation that exists, and the wealth of trade and investment opportunities this offers,” the British PM had written in his letter dated July 24.

Ms Banerjee highlighted that it was a matter of “destiny” that Britain turns to Kolkata and West Bengal, which she described as a “gateway to Asia”.

“Britain started with Kolkata as its business capital (during the Raj) so that is the destination. History repeats itself and it is destiny that British business should expand to Kolkata,” she said.

Asked how the West Bengal capital compares to London, the Trinamool Congress leader said both cities have their own identity but there are a number of similarities.

“As I have been walking around I see a lot of similarities in architecture and road names. They have Queen Victoria’s statue, we have Victoria Memorial. London is an expensive city but Kolkata is not. It is a soft, soothing, cheap city. London is pollution-free and we are fast moving towards a cleaner, greener city,” she said.

Walking has been central theme of the chief minister’s visit to the UK, as she prefers to explore London mostly by foot in her trademark white sari and flip-flops.

Asked if she would revisit the British capital, she said: “I will definitely come back. This has been a very fruitful business meet. The perception of Bengal has changed today. It is set to become the industrial hub of India. The size of investments will become clear over time but 21 MoUs have been signed, which is a very positive sign.”

“Today the world is a united family and we must walk together,” she said.

No red tape, backlogs in Bengal: WB CM in London

West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee has called on the UK to invest in her state stating that “backlogs and red tape are gone”.

In reference to the progress made by the Trinamool Congress government over the last four years, she said “If there is a vision, there is a mission…(otherwise) there will be no action plan also”.

“If you say London is the (financial) capital of the world, I say Bengal is the human capital of the world,” she said in her address at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) last evening.

Later in the day , Lord Swraj Paul called on Mamata in her hotel. Paul, said he was willing to help Bengal in “whatever way possible”.

The Chief Minister, who walked around London yesterday, covered over 12km in two hours.

A closed-door business meeting at Asia House is scheduled later today.


West Bengal invites UK to ‘ride its growth story’

The West Bengal government has assured British investors that it has taken steps to bring down the labour strikes to zero levels, as it made a strong case for attracting investments.

“We are setting up systems in place. There has been a radical shift since 2010-11, when 7.6 lakh work days were lost [due to labour strikes]. By 2013, the number of working days lost came down to zero. It takes time for mind-sets to change but please come to Bengal and we can assure very clear worker management processes,” West Bengal’s Finance Minister Amit Mitra said.

He was speaking at a gathering of British and Indian business delegates, organised by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC).

The minister also highlighted the state’s “transparent” process of e-services introduced at all levels, including tax collection, tenders and other areas of services.

“The World Bank has cleared funds for Hooghly riverfront regeneration. We do competitive, transparent, e-based bidding and the UK has the expertise so it must connect up on this project,” the minister said.

Energy, education, smart cities projects and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were the other key sectors highlighted by the West Bengal team as offering great potential for partnerships between the state and UK.

Mitra is the part of a 62-member delegation led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to London this week.

“Bengal in London: Come to Bengal, Ride the Growth” is the theme behind the delegation.

“States are the building blocks of India’s growth and Prime Minister Modi has recognised this in providing a larger role to the states. West Bengal, with its dynamic chief minister and able team, is attracting investors like never before. Doing business in Bengal today is easier, simpler and faster,” said Jyotsna Suri, chairperson of the Bharat Group and president of the Federation Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

Sumit Mazumder, chairman and managing director of TIL Limited and president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said, “West Bengal is a state with a GDP higher than the national average of the country. It offers lots of opportunities. I urge you to come and find out for yourself.

Mamata in London – Day 2 itinerary

On the 2nd day of her visit to London, West Bengal Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee will hold several meeting throughout the day.

From morning to noon, the West Bengal Chief Minister will be present in meetings regarding Transportation for London, regarding opportunities in Energy and Natural Resources and with officials of the Horniman Museum for collaboration on restoration of musical instruments.

In the afternoon, the Chief Minister will attend a meeting with the Indian delegates and MOU partners at St. James Court.

In the late afternoon, the West Bengal Chief Minister will visit the Parliament Square to pay floral tributes at the Mahatma Gandhi statue and then to the Tavistok Square to pay floral tributes at the Rabindranath Tagore statue.

Today, the West Bengal Chief Minister will also have a meeting  Lord Swraj Paul.