Prepare policy before investors meet, industry tells Bengal

Kolkata, Jan 28 (IANS) With the West Bengal government postponing its Feb 13 industry meet in Mumbai, the business community has warned that unless the state finalises its industry policy, the event would end in a whimper.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a speech at a recent investors' summit in Haldia, had said another industry meet would be held in Mumbai. But Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee later said the meet would be deferred due to lack of preparation and because the chief minister would be busy ahead of the state budget.

The three-day 'Bengal Leads' in Haldia during Jan 15-17 saw a lacklustre response from industry captains. The new industrial policy was expected to be announced at the meet but was not.

"My suggestion to the Bengal government is that it should prepare the policy before the Mumbai meet to showcase the state as an attractive investment destination. The government should show entrepreneurs what it is going to offer," Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Kallol Datta told IANS.

"We are waiting for the new industry policy," said Datta, also chairman and managing director of engineering company Andrew Yule, a public sector undertaking.

Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretary D.P. Nag said the new industry policy would help the government woo investors and it was imperative to prepare it first before going for any meet.

"It will surely help the government in Mumbai and other places where such events are going to take place," Nag said.

Tata Steel Processing and Distribution managing director Sandipan Chakravorty said the industrial policy should clearly include policies of land, labour, infrastructure and monetary matters.

"We will expect the government to come out with specific policies regarding land, labour and infrastructure. The industrial policy should also have a monetary policy to tell probable investors from where they are going to get loans," Chakravorty said.

He said that about a month ago, industry experts gave the state their recommendations for the policy as asked by the industry department. "I think it is still in the discussion stage."

Industry sources told IANS that one of the reasons behind the Banerjee government's decision to defer the Mumbai meet might be its inability to finalise the policy.

"The draft of the policy is ready. But there has been some internal debates going on regarding some clauses. So the chief minister has not yet okayed it," a lobbyist told IANS on condition of anonymity.

"It is one of the main reasons for the postponement of the event," he said.

Asked whether the deferment of the event date would have any impact on probable investors, he said: "Who is bothered?"

Banerjee and her government have so far been facing an uphill task to woo investors to West Bengal as the state's land policy has drawn flak from entrepreneurs. The policy has taken out the state's role in land acquisition for industrial projects and asked industrialists to buy directly from landowners.

(Mithun Dasgupta can be contacted at mithun.d@ians.in)

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