The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Industry is priority, CM tells party

Calcutta, July 13: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today told CPM workers that industry and foreign direct investment are required for the growth of the state's economy.

Addressing party leaders and workers at Promode Dasgupta Bhavan, the CPM's district headquarters, the chief minister said the emphasis on industry should not be diluted and the success of land reforms should be utilised for industrialisation.

'Let me tell you that Bengal needs industry and industrialisation is a priority area. The success in land reforms is a pillar on which industry will thrive,' he said.

However, Bhattacharjee did not directly refer to the contentious issue of farmland being acquired for industry.

Moving on to FDI, he said: 'Similarly, the state needs foreign direct investment. We will have to accept the reality. But foreign investment should not be at the cost of our state's sovereignty.'

The chief minister, however, added that his government was opposed to FDI in the retail sector. 'We have no problem in allowing FDI in basic industries and manufacturing. But we will not open up our retail sector to FDI and Walmart.'

Bhattacharjee said private capital is key to strengthening economy. 'We can't deny that the pressure of private capital is there and socialism cannot be practised but only preached. But we also believe in the inevitability of socialism.'

The state needs to concentrate on investment in sectors like information technology, manufacturing and chemicals and to achieve this, Bengal's alternative path of development has to be followed, he said.

'If foreign funding agencies coming with investment proposals and lay down structural adjustment conditions, we cannot accept that. We cannot allow them to determine what sort of subsidy is to be given and what sort of budget is to be prepared.'

Bhattacharjee said that besides large industries, the state needs to attract small and medium enterprises as they would help create employment opportunities. 'This is an emerging area and nowadays called SMEs. If industry is to be developed in the state, SMEs will have to be attracted. China met with immense success by increasing the number of SMEs. We will also have to do so,' he said.

The chief minister stressed that the government cannot construct roads or improve rural hospitals without funds from agencies like the Department of International Development and the Asian Development Bank. 'Our state has financial problems'. This compulsion has to be understood.'

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