Mamata hardsells Bengal as gateway to East

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on January 19, 2018

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee greets Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at the Bengal Global Business Summit 2016 in Kolkata on Friday. Also seen are Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (extreme left), Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, and West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra (extreme right).

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on GST

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (file photo)

Industry commits ₹40,000 cr on Day 1 of Bengal Global Business Summit

It has become commonplace for State governments to organise summits to attract investments. But the second edition of the Bengal Global Business Summit organised in Kolkata was different in its approach.

The State made a strong pitch for the growth of the entire region, including neighbouring Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Regional hub

“It takes over two hours to fly from Kolkata to any other metro, but a Dhaka or a Kathmandu is only 30 minutes journey,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said while inaugurating the summit, which attracted participants from 25 countries.

“A footprint in West Bengal helps you to extend operations in the North-East, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, and the farther East,” she said, reminding the industry captains about the upcoming network of Asian highways that will pass through the State.

While the leaders of the North-Eastern States were not present on the occasion, Banerjee referred to the growth aspirations of each of these States.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley described West Bengal as the “nucleus of a regional hub”. According to him industry-friendly policies will help the State to return its glory days.

Senior central ministers Nitin Gadkari, Suresh Prabhu, Piyush Goyal and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal attended the summit.

UK Employment Minister Priti Patel was also present at the summit. Neighbouring Bhutan was represented by Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay. “This summit is an excellent platform to learn not only about Bengal’s potential but the potential of the region as a whole,” said Tobgay. A more prosperous Bengal will help the growth of the entire region, he pointed out.

The sentiments were echoed by Bangladeshi Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed.

₹40,000-cr investment

If the proceedings on Day 1 are any indication, industry’s response to Mamata’s appeal was positive. Though no official data were released, a rough calculation suggests nearly ₹40,000 crore was pledged in investments by the likes of Reliance, Airtel, ITC, Essel, Shriram and a few Japanese companies.

The sectors that received maximum attention were telecom infrastructure, roads, food processing and urban infrastructure. A few Japanese companies committed investments in agri-logistics.

“West Bengal is a power surplus State and is ready for industry,” said Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, who is building telecom infrastructure in the State.

Published on January 08, 2016

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