The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Corporate cry for CMO

Calcutta, Jan. 24: If South Block can have a PMO, Writers’ Buildings must have a CMO. At least, that is what the Americans want.

Representatives of 22 American companies rolled out a wish-list for Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee this evening at a closed-door meeting to explore investment opportunities and identify constraints. The meet was organised by the state government, the US consulate and the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.

“We asked for a CMO (chief minister’s office) here along the lines of the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) for speedy disposal of investment-related decisions and to offer single-window facility,” said a representative of a US technology company after the one-and-a-half-hour session.

The Americans also urged the government to maintain a scorecard of its promises and achievements to bring transparency in governance.

Bhattacharjee was assisted at the meeting by industries and commerce minister Nirupam Sen, IT minister Manab Mukherjee and West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation chairman Somnath Chatterjee.

“We made a presentation on investment opportunities in the state in areas like information technology, chemicals, plastics and iron and steel. From their side, they showed two success stories — Techna Digital Services and Cognizant Technology Solutions — out of Calcutta,” Bhattacharjee said, adding that the response was encouraging.

The session was billed as a meet with CEOs of US companies in India and had representation from organisations like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco Systems (India), Ernst & Young and eFunds International.

Bhattacharjee mentioned road and education as the two major concerns that the guests raised during the Q&A session.

But, according to a senior executive in a US company, the chief minister had a few embarrassing moments when some representatives talked about labour problems and the multiplicity of clearances required for investments in the state.

Representatives from Coke and Citibank referred to labour unrest in their organisations, he said. A few participants also highlighted administrative delays in decision-making. The chief minister gave them a patient hearing and urged them to get in touch with him directly for solutions to such problems.

When the team — led by US consul-general George N. Sibley — asked for a convention centre with a permanent exhibition ground, Bhattacharjee said: “We are already in talks with the Indian Trade Promotion Organisation to set up such facilities here.”

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