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‘Without image re-correction mere business summits will never attract investments in Bengal

West Bengal government is all set to organise Bengal Global Business Summit, 2022, the event to showcase the state as an ideal investment destination, on April 20 and 21.

The event, this year, is taking place against the backdrop of a situation when the state is grabbing media headlines for all wrong reasons like mass killing at Bogtui, public assassination of elected councillors and West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) scams, among others. Now the question automatically making rounds is that in such a situation how far the meet will be successful in really attracting new investments.

IANS talked to some of the city’s economic and industry observers on the issue. Almost all of them opined that in absence of a thorough image re-correction and putting forward the right and required government policies, business summits might attract investment commitment but not actual investments.

First IANS tried to get reaction of some of the members of the state cabinet and senior leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress on this matter. But not a single one among them was ready to make any official comment on the matter out of the apprehension of censorship from the party’s top leadership.

However, one member of the state cabinet, on strict condition of anonymity, said that the reasons why the state is in the media limelight these days was undesirable before the business summit of such a magnitude “No government wants the state to be portrayed in bad light not just before any business summit but anytime round the year. So, our government also does not want that especially when our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s current focus is development of industries.

“However, unfortunately certain recent incidents have been highlighted out of the proportion by the opposition political forces and also a section of the media. This is unfortunate. However, I am confident that the business delegates coming to attend the summit are aware of the sincerity of our chief minister regarding the state development and they will not be swayed by the negative propaganda,” the state cabinet member said.

Speaking to IANS, city- based investment consultant and financial analyst, Nilanjan Dey pointed out that the negative instances cannot spoil the mood of the investors if the state government concerned can send a clear message to the investors that such negative instances will not be a hindrance for the investors for peaceful implementation of the project.

“Now it is to be seen how far the current West Bengal government addresses this issue to the delegates. The second aspect is putting forth the right policy for gaining the confidence of the investors. Frankly speaking, I do not foresee any immediate possibility for big and heavy industries in the manufacturing sector in the state because of the land policies of the state government.

“And it is unlikely that the current ruling party can divert from that land policy since their agitation against government land acquisition for industries was the key factor behind their coming to power in the state. But West Bengal has tremendous potential for development of the services sector especially the IT and ITES sectors. But for that the state government needs to pronounce an appropriate special economic zone (SEZ) policy and I hope the chief minister announces that in the forthcoming summit only,” Dey said.

Economic analyst and financial columnist of international acclaim, Kunal Bose, and Sujay Basu, vice- president of multinational FMCG product company also somewhat agreed with Dey,

“The mere wish to attract investments to the state is not enough to attract investments. A stable and peaceful law & order situation is always a plus point for the state in attracting new investments. Unfortunately, West Bengal always had a negative image to the country and the world for decades for which the current state government or the state’s ruling party cannot be blamed alone. What I feel is that the state needs a thorough image makeover and the first task of the state government and the chief minister is to ensure that makeover on an emergency basis. I wish that the process of image makeover starts from the business summit this year,’ Sujay Basu said.

On the other hand, Kunal Bose told IANS that despite its huge geographical advantage, the state is lagging behind in attracting new investments because of the negative reasons for which the state is highlighted again and again. “Do not forget that attracting new investments is highly competitive. So, the potential investors always look into factors like political stability and law & order situation before taking an investment decision. There had been a number of business summits in Kolkata in the past. But the question is whether those summits have yielded actual investments or just investment commitments,” he said.

Economics teacher, P.K. Mukhopadhyay said that it cannot be denied that in her third term the chief minister has shown seriousness in attracting investments to the state. “Some positive moves have also been taken by the state government on this count. But that present sequence of events that depict an alarming law & order situation for the state is not conducive for gaining investors’ confidence,” he said.

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