Fourth edition of Bengal Global Business summit to begin on Tuesday

Kolkata, Jan 15 : In the shadow of slower economic growth in the country after the implementation of new indirect tax regime and a renewed anti-land acquisition protest at Bhangar in the state, the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government is to inaugurate the fourth edition of its annual two-day business summit on Tuesday that will see participation from over 30 countries.

The authorities are yet to formally announce any list of Indian business captains who would attend the Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS), 2018.

But industry doyens like Reliance Industries' Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Steel maker ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal, JSW Group's Chief Sajjan Jindal, city based FMCG major ITC's CEO Sanjiv Puri, RP Sanjiv Goenka Group's Chairman Sanjiv Goenka and others are expected to attend this year's summit.

In an effort to shed the state's investor-wary image and woo much-needed business capital, the state government had reached out to various parts of the country and even foreign countries in the lead up to the event, being held in the sprawling Biswa Bangla Convention Centre at Rajarhat in Kolkata.

Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Japan, China, South Korea and the UK are among the overseas nations to be represented at the mega business gathering.

Consul General of China in Kolkata, Ma Zhanwu had recently confirmed 30 Chinese companies would participate in the business meet and according to him, Chinese companies aimed at utilising BGBS and other opportunities towards fulfilling the goal to invest (Dollar) 200 billion abroad every year.

Italy will also be participating in this edition as a partner country in the Summit for the second year in a row, with an expected delegation of more than 30 companies where the sectors most represented will be transport and infrastructure, metals and leather.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will likely be signed in the leather sector, for new technologies and training programmes.

A high level Polish delegation headed by Marek Magierowski, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs responsible for the relations with Asia and economic cooperation, will participate in the BGBS.

Representatives of Silesia, an economically robust region of the east European country, and West Bengal will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral cooperation.

In order to ensure a strong foreign imprint, the state government organised a series of interactive sessions on business opportunities in Bengal in Germany, the UK and The Hague, Netherlands.

High powered officials and business delegation had also fanned out to China, South Korea in last October and Thailand in last August-September.

According to state Finance, Commerce and Industries Minister Amit Mitra, there would be thousands delegates at the plenary session, including a strong presence from countries where manufacturing units are really strong.

However, key central government figures, most notably Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari would likely be skipping the summit and their absence could be attributed to the deteriorating relations between the BJP-led central government and the state's Trinamool Congress regime.

Chief Minister Manata Banerjee has been vocal against the central government's decision to recall Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) without enough preparation.

In a desperate attempt to turn things around in terms of investment in Bengal, she has appealed to industrialists time and again to infuse investments in the eastern state, to meet the huge demands for jobs.

Banerjee also frequently tom-toms the state as a zone of "industrial peace" where not a "single manday" is lost due to industrial disputes and gate-way of North east India and South-East Asia.

The state topped the provisional ranking of Ease of Doing Business for implementation of criteria in the Ease of Doing Business reforms though the ranking is dynamic and will continuously undergo changes, until the freezing of rankings.

However, such claims may have lost some sheen in view of the fresh trouble in South 24 Parganas district's Bhangar, with violent clashes between villagers and the Trinamool's activists over acquiring land for setting up a power grid project.

The 104-day shutdown and unrest in the Darjeeling, called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha following the disputes between the state government and the principal party in the Hills, had affected the investment climate in the north Bengal.

However, the situation in the hills has been normalising day by day, the government claimed.

The fresh chapter of the summit would focus priority areas for attracting investment, such as transport, urban development, power, medium and small-scale enterprises, IT and ITeS and infrastructure, health, education, skill, agro and food processing.

The sessions would include sector-wise discussions to project the possibilities and potential of Bengal in front of investors.

The state government is expected to announce its IT policy in the summit and the new industrial policy as the existing one will expire by end of March this year.

According to the state government, the 2015 summit had fetched investment proposals to the tune of Rs 2.43 lakh crore and the 2016 edition received over Rs 2.5 lakh crore of investment proposals.

Over 2.35 lakh crore of business announcements were received by the state in the last edition BGBS.



Source: IANS