In her first meeting with the business chambers since assuming office for the second term, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged industries to “act” and be more pro-active and not merely praise the government.
“Now let’s stop talking and instead put things into action,” Mamata told Bengal Inc present at the felicitation event organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, BNCCI, MCC, FICCI, Assocham, Calcutta Chamber, BCCI, Bharat Chamber, among others.
Her comment comes after business and chamber leaders showered praises on Mamata for her thumping victory in the last Assembly elections.
The CM said that presently industries in India were facing a crisis and it has created an atmosphere of paranoia. “From what I understand of industry, everyone is facing an acute crisis. There are so many agencies — Income Tax department, ED, CBI, and so on. There is constant mistrust. People are afraid to speak on the phones of different agencies and of doing business in India. But this is not the right way. I would urge you not to be afraid and just be technically sound and you will be fine,” she said.
Highlighting the achievements of the state in her last term, Mamata claimed that Bengal is “industry friendly” and “labour friendly”. “Our gross value addition has grown in excess of 10 per cent, while in the country it grew by 7.5 per cent. Industry expanded by 8.3 per cent in the state, while India’s comparable number is 5.3 per cent as Bengal had zero strikes and man-days’ loss and revenue generation doubled to Rs 40,000 crore in the last four years,” Mamata said.
Hitting out at a section of media for projecting a “negative” image of the state, Mamata said that Bengal should not be compared with Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu as either they house finance capital or have huge numbers of ports or high revenue income. “We (Bengal) have just two ports and even those have not been dredged. Despite that I have doubled the state’s revenue to Rs 40,000 crore,” she said.
The CM said she would take the opportunity of her visit to Vatican City to attend the canonisation of Mother Teresa on September 4 to attract investment for the state. She said she would try to hold business meetings in the nearby countries, too, to attract investment in auto and manufacturing sector in the state. “I am going to Rome in September for canonisation of Mother Teresa and I am trying to organise business meetings at a location close by. We can look at automobiles and manufacturing. We have enough land bank for it,” Mamata said, and asked state Finance Minister Amit Mitra to coordinate with the chambers to organise it.
She said there should be vision plan for short, mid and long term like of 10,15 and 20 years. “We should work towards that.”
Mamata also hit out at the opposition for pursuing “destructive” politics. “Political action will only work during election time. But why do it for 365 days? There is no problem with criticism, but sometimes it can lead to problems… But industrialists must explore the reality,” Mamata said. “I am facing the legacy of the Left rule, which has left behind a lot of debt for the state. But there still are a lot of positives in Bengal,” she added.
Admitting that in certain cases, “local interests” go against the ease of doing business, Mamata said if one approaches the “right avenue”, those problems can be sorted out. Urging industry leaders to come up with ideas and plans to iron out issues with state finance minister, she said, “As CM, my concerns are not just for the industry but also for the common man and labourers. As long as the plans are constructive for the state and doesn’t harm anyone, we will do everything we can.”