The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal business future emerges out of past shadow

Calcutta, June 24: The baggage of the past still weighs down industry in Bengal but the future seems brighter. This is the crux of a business perception survey conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

As part of the exercise — carried out in the last week of May — CII members were quizzed on a gamut of issues. The questions ranged from their assessment of current investment climate to political environment in the state and possibilities of expansion in business to future attractiveness of the state capital vis-à-vis other cities.

To give a comparative picture of where the state stands in the eyes of investors, the survey talks about a measure, current investment friendliness index. And according to this index, computed on the basis of ranks given by the respondents to 12 states, West Bengal gets the sixth position, behind Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

But it’s time to move up, the message is loud and clear from the survey.

“In the past, there were some issues regarding industry. But on the ground, the situation is much different today and there are signs of hectic activity all around. With over 55 per cent of the respondents thinking that a process of industrial resurgence has set in and 88 per cent expecting higher sales and revenues in the next fiscal, the survey captures a buoyant mood in Bengal’s business environment,” says Amitabh Khosla, director, CII eastern region.

And in what can be seen as a reassertion of this feeling, a majority of the respondents has said that they are planning diversification and scaling up of operations, besides increasing advertisement outlays.

The survey makes it clear that the business community does not bother about the colour of the government as long as the environment is stable. So, while Left leaders send shock waves in the stock market with their comments, captains of industry, covering the entire spectrum from new age information technology to hardcore manufacturing industry, give the Left government in Bengal a thumping victory over other states for ensuring a stable political environment.

The future business attractiveness index, based on respondents’ views on Calcutta’s attractiveness vis-à-vis other destinations five years from now, also points to a brighter future. According to the survey results, Calcutta ranks higher than today’s growth centres like Delhi, Chennai and Ahmedabad.

The survey identifies six sectors, which would fuel growth in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Bengal. These include IT and IT-enabled services, agri business and food processing, retail, housing and real estate, iron and steel and private healthcare.

The survey brings some good news for the government — desperate to create more employment opportunities — with over 63 per cent of the respondents saying their companies will increase the headcount on their rolls in the next fiscal.

Not just the heap of praises and good news, the findings also roll out a wish list from the industry. More than 38 per cent of the respondents make it clear that infrastructure, primarily road and power, are major concern areas. Industrial relations, image of the state, social infrastructure and red-tapism are constraining the growth prospect, says the survey.


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