|Mamata Banerjee speaks to finance minister Amit Mitra on the first day of Synergy MSME 2013 at Milon Mela
The state government’s show to attract micro, small-scale and medium enterprises to Bengal, which started on Monday, clocked several departures from business conclaves earlier. The changes, termed “positive” by representatives of chambers of commerce, did meet the eyes.
Synergy MSME 2013, the six-day conclave organised for micro, small-scale and medium enterprises, is aimed at giving a big push to the sector.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee flagged off the event at Milon Mela, off the EM Bypass.
The positives The Telegraph saw, and two questions:
Mamata Banerjee surprised the audience with her conduct in the one-and-a-half hours she spent at the venue. The chief minister largely stuck to a prepared speech, which was both focused and informative. “This is one of the best speeches by the chief minister that I have heard in recent times. She made sense today,” the head of a city-based chamber of commerce said.
Ready for show
There was no work-in-progress feeling at the Milon Mela. The venue looked ready to host the show, a welcome change from other such events like Bengal Leads and Pragati Utsav. These were marked by a last-minute rush to put up the stalls.
Unlike earlier flop business shows, all the stalls and pavilions of Synergy MSME 2013 were ready before the show started around 12pm.
The right people were present. At hall 3 of the venue, all nationalised banks apart from several private banks and a host of non-banking financial companies put up stalls.
“The response has been great. We have had around 40 registrations till now. The queries range from availability of loans for expansion to special subsidies for women entrepreneurs,” an employee of Central Bank of India said.
Mamata took a walk around the venue and inspected pavilions and an open-air crafts hub. She stood longer at the pavilion housing stalls of banks and financial institutions and said: “Please dekhben, shobai jeno loan paye, (please ensure that everybody gets loans)”.
As many as nine MoUs were announced in the presence of the chief minister. The MoUs included one with Unesco for 10 rural craft hubs across the state, one MoU with CSIR (Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research) for setting up a technology facilitation centre and building business incubation centres in backward districts with the national small industries corporation.
According to representatives from the chambers of commerce, the show was a “welcome change” after Bengal Leads, where there was nothing concrete to display.
Officials said proper planning and co-ordination by the government with chambers of commerce, banks, financial institutions and other bodies made the difference.
Mamata mentioned that the state government has adopted a public procurement policy. MSME officials later said this meant that preference to products from the MSME sector would become mandatory for government procurements. “Certain items such as textile, leather, furniture, nuts and bolts and bulbs and tubelights would have to be procured from the MSME sector only,” an official said.
A total of 29 government departments such as land, fire, pollution control board, labour, technical education and municipal affairs have set up stalls. There were pavilions that hosted consultants on branding, patenting, finance and marketing. According to sources in the MSME department, more than 2,500 people were assigned to attend only the clinics, set up to address the woes of the sector.
“More than 25 people have visited our stall since morning. We are explaining to them the benefits of getting their company rated. Three (companies) have given us cheques on the spot, asking us to rate their enterprises,” said a cluster development manager of SMERA, a rating agency.
Saugat Mukherjee, regional director of Confederation of Indian Industry, said: “The clinics set up at the venue was well thought of to address a specific issue that a business might face.”
Mamata said the MoUs and the proceedings of the six-day conclave would ensure one crore jobs.
“A tall order indeed. She didn’t explain how,” a business chamber representative said.
The question mark over availability of land remained though. “The chief minister assured that there is enough land in the state to set up micro and small-scale industries. But a state cannot fully prosper unless big industries come up,” said the head of a city-based chamber of commerce.