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Bengal helpline for investors

Calcutta, June 10: Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has asked key departments like information technology, fisheries, commerce and industries, food and agro processing to set up nodal offices for big projects to bring in more investment.

The nodal offices will help sort out investors’ problems on a case-to-case basis and will see that the projects do not get stalled at any point. The offices will also provide information on possible business opportunities in the state.

The nodal offices will take Bengal a step forward in its goal to bring in Rs 2,500 crore investment in the current fiscal.

The government has, however, not decided on the definition of ‘big projects’. “It may be either big in investments or big in opportunity,” sources said.

However, the state will not appoint new officials for these offices. “The government will select an officer from the department concerned who will help the investor to sort out his problems. It will be an additional responsibility for the official,” a top official of the commerce and industry department said.

Sources said that the proposal to set up nodal offices comes in the wake of complaints made by investors to the chief minister. “Some of the potential investors had to run from pillar to post to get things done. The government wants to put a check on this unnecessary harassment,” sources added.

Industry officials feel that the proposal to set up nodal offices has been made at a time when some of the corporate majors like Dabur, Hindustan Lever and Pepsico India want to invest in the state. The state is also getting investment proposals in the iron and steel and cement sectors. “The state will take no chances in all these cases,” sources said.

The nodal offices will also help the functioning of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC). “The corporation has already a lot of work to do. The nodal offices will help the corporation to speed up the work and create a more comfortable environment for potential investors,” sources said.

Industry has welcomed the government’s move to set up nodal offices. Nazib Arif, secretary general of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Nodal offices will not only help external investors but also internal investors. There are many investors within the state who are keen to do something here. But they hardly have any access to business information. It is a move towards the right direction.”

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