The Bengal Global Business Summit 2015 started today in Kolkata, and finance minister Arun Jaitley made a pitch for the development of the state that has suffered from lack of industries for decades.
"The state itself has a whole history of intellectual capital. It historically had some of the largest industries of India. Unfortunately, many of them have left and now our challenge is how to re-establish as an industrial center once again," he said in a speech at the summit. Kolkata, once Mumbai's rival as India's industrial capital, fell way behind after the communist government came to power in the 70s and neglected private businesses.
Jaitley said Bengal has several strengths, including its location that can help it be India's gateway to southeast Asia. In recent months, tensions have grown between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the centre, and state chief minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress. Some leaders of the party have been arrested in Saradha chit fund scam in an on-going investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Jaitley said political differences will not come in the way of national causes. "The strength of India's democracy is that even though in a multi-party democracy, the governments of different shades will rule at the Centre and in the states yet there are larger national causes for which they all stand together." He added that West Bengal will benefit from reform measures such as coal block auctions and GST implementation that the central government has initiated.
The Finance Minister further said that almost every state in India is realising the importance of creating an investment friendly environment and encouraging investment in the state. "Industry will expect a return on investment and, therefore, our entire environment has to be such that it ensures that investment will lead to greater investment," he added.
Around 500 delegations from India and aboard are expected to attend the two-day event. The state government is attempting to use summit platform to showcase West Bengal as an ideal investment destination, on the similar lines as 'Vibrant Gujarat' which also began today in Ahmedabad.
(With agency inputs)