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Calcutta cruises to credit crest
- Spending trend turnaround spurs financiers to line up loan mela

High on savings and low on spending, that’s the way it’s been in Calcutta. But the city’s picking up the art of splurging with borrowed money, as living beyond means becomes the modern mantra.

With interest rates slipping to an all-time low and banks chasing customers to offer credit, Calcutta is poised to ride a credit crest. Recognising the turnaround in the trend, it’s ‘focus Calcutta’ for financiers this winter.

Come December 5, almost all major financiers and bankers will gather under one roof and woo Calcuttans with a host of loan and credit products at Finance & Investment Fair 2003, billed as the first of its kind in the city.

“There have been bits-and-pieces efforts earlier to promote financial products in the Calcutta market. But this is going to be the first show with a complete focus on the offerings from the world of finance,” said T. S. Walia of Walia Trade International. From credit cards and auto loans to mutual funds and home loans, the four-day-fair at Ice Skating Rink will give Calcutans a chance to browse and bag the best bargains.

“Credit off-take in the city, which historically has been the lowest among four metros, has at last started showing a different trend. With interest rates steadily moving southwards, Calcutta is fast catching up with other cities. Not just the city, the market is growing even in the suburbs and we expect the fair to generate good business for all participants,” said A. Mitra of Tata Home Finance.

Though Walia Trade International, the city-based agency behind the event, has received confirmation from around 20 participants to date, the organisers are bullish about the success of the show. “We have space for 44 stalls and we are sure that the bookings will be complete in the next two weeks. Such fairs generate tremendous interest in other cities, like Delhi and Chennai, and we are expecting a footfall of around 5,000 to 8,000 every day,” said Walia.

The timing of the fair — between December 5 and 8 — is also strategic. “To minimise the impact of taxes, people decide on their investment plans in January-February,” observed Walia.

Those who have already signed up for the fair include Tata Home Finance, Birla Home Finance, ICICI Prudential, ICI Home Loans, Standard Chartered Bank, Punjab National Bank and Citibank. “We will give verbal sanction and try to complete the process in two days,” said Viraj Gurwara of Global Marketing Services.

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