“With a GDP growth at 12.5% based on statistics provided by the Indian Government and a high Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) ranking, West Bengal is leading the perception change narrative,” Dr Amit Mitra, Hon’ble Minister in Charge, Departments of Finance & Excise, Information Technology and Electronics, Industry, Commerce & Enterprises, Industrial Reconstruction, MSME and Textiles, Government of West Bengal said while addressing stakeholders at the Invest Bengal Conclave in Kolkata.
Speaking about the perception of the state, the Finance Minister of West Bengal stressed that both the capital and planned expenditure of the state has grown “phenomenally” over the last few years with important infrastructural developments like 24000 km of village roads, 7000 new primary schools and 42 universities which has provided more human talent, stronger markets for Bengal. Dr Mitra lauded the CII members who have submitted an Expression of Interest to the tune of INR 5522 crores to be actualized in the next 2 years and which, according to him will create “1.5 – 2.5 lakhs of additional jobs.”
Echoing the Finance & Industry Minister’s sentiments, Mr Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Home & Hill Affairs, Industry Commerce and Enterprises, & Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and Textiles, Government of West Bengal said that the “traditional skill base of the MSMEs like handloom, handicraft, gems & jewellery are vital to the state’s growth and the Government of West Bengal is making significant efforts to unearth and showcase this skill base.” Mr Bandopadhyay also emphasized on the ” stories of change and turnaround in the industrial relations, the ease of doing business in terms of accessibility of bureaucrats, other government officials for setting up businesses, the significant hospitality, road and similar Infrastructure creation” which should go a long way to establish the “counter narratives of the perception of the state.” The Additional Chief Secretary spoke about aviation being the “new growth theme in West Bengal” and also about the interest of e-commerce giants like Flipkart who will be setting up a business on a 100-acre land. Mr Bandopadhyay said that the stakeholders should celebrate about the 100 odd industrial parks that have come up in the state, the largest leather hub in Asia at Bantala and similar such stories which would go a long way to reshape West Bengal’s position nationally.
Mr Bruce Bucknell, Deputy High Commissioner, British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata said that though West Bengal is blessed with unique institutions, huge talent pool, locational advantage, it will still take some time for perceptions to change. Mr Masayuki Taga, Consul General, Consulate General of Japan in Kolkata also concurred with Mr Bucknell on the perception of the state. “Businesses in the UK desire to engage with India on a long-term basis,” Mr Richard McCallum, Managing Director, UK India Business Council added saying that a survey of its members taken in 2018 indicate that “25% of them would like to expand their businesses in West Bengal and North East”.
There were deliberations in the inaugural session on the significance of corporate governance to attract Private Equity (PE), the role of PEs, the growth sectors for investments. Mr Nilesh Shah, Managing Director, Kotak Mahindra Asset Management Company Limited said that governance is a necessity to attract PE and venture capital and has to have the six layers namely executive management, owners/shareholders, Board of Directors, Auditors, Rating Agency and Regulators.
This forum was designed to assemble a select group of business visionaries, entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists, investment professionals, and money managers. In addition to presenting “one-of-a-kind” private investment opportunities, it was an ideal setting for new business development, exchange of ideas, creation of deal flow, location of capital sources and ultra-high-end networking. This conference offered an ideal background to meet prospective financial partners among the eminent investment professionals who are expected to attend.