The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Business beckons Bengal to Lanka

Calcutta, Nov. 26: It’s Destination Sri Lanka for Calcutta’s industry.

Convinced that the countries on the Bay of Bengal rim are untapped business partners with a “lot of potential”, the state government and the city’s industrial circles are wooing the island-nation to buy from — and sell to — the state, whose capital was once considered the capital of all the British colonies in Asia.

A team of industrialists, doctors, educationists and painters led by Speaker H.A. Halim is now back in the city after an 11-day trip to Sri Lanka.

The delegation — counting among its members business magnates Abhijit Sen, Prabir Ray and Aditya Kashyap, Left-leaning educationist Pabitra Sarkar, painter Suvaprasanna and cardiologist Saibal Gupta — met, among others, Sri Lankan industry minister Rohitha Bogollagama, commerce and consumer affairs minister Ravi Karunanayake and the mayors of Colombo and Kandy.

“Care was taken to pick a representative sample of the city’s best faces,” Bengal Initiative chairman and co-leader of the delegation Amiya Gooptu explained. “We wanted to dwell on specifics and, therefore, took along persons who knew them,” he said.

The discussions with the senior ministers and political leaders of Sri Lanka centred on opportunities for investment and tie-ups between Calcutta-based and Sri Lankan industries, the Speaker told The Telegraph.

“As a beginning, we have identified tourism, gems and jewellery, fishing, housing and infrastructure development, health, and education as the prospective areas where tie-ups are possible,” Halim said. “One of the seniormost Cabinet ministers of that country is going to visit Calcutta next year and, before he arrives, we want to be ready with specific proposals,” he added.

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