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Bengal Global Business Summit ends with hope, state gets investment proposals over Rs 3.7 lakh crore

Big names of India Inc like Mukesh Ambani were present at the summit and the state government tried its best to woo big capital, but the seventh edition of BGBS stood out for the prominence it gave to the SME sector

Devadeep Purohit Calcutta Published 23.11.23, 07:19 AM
Mamata Banerjee at the valedictory session of the BGBS on Wednesday.

Mamata Banerjee at the valedictory session of the BGBS on Wednesday. Picture by Sanat Kr Sinha

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that investment proposals worth Rs 3,76,288 crore, contained in 188 memorandums of understanding (MoU) and letters of intent (LoI), were received during the seventh edition of the Bengal Global Business Summit before calling it one of the most successful shows held in the state.

During the concluding session of the two-day show, the chief minister rolled out the numbers towards the end of her speech, woven around the theme of "small is beautiful", and captured her government's focus on unemployment by giving a big push to small and medium enterprises.


"I want to inform you that 188 MoUs and LOIs were signed during the summit covering numerous sectors and investment proposals worth Rs 3,76,288 crore were received," said the chief minister, who later claimed it was one of the most successful business meets organised by the Bengal government.

Mamata, in a repeat of her inaugural address, delivered a political address in the closing ceremony. The emphasis on small and medium enterprises as an engine of growth also seemed to be a calculated one.

"Say you want to build a house, but for that you need construction workers.... These poor construction workers are important to me. I will always fight for the poor and stand up in case of any injustice against them," said the chief minister.

"These poor people's employment is important for me and I think the SME sector can create opportunities for these people," she added.

Big names of India Inc like Mukesh Ambani were present at the summit and the state government tried its best to woo big capital, but the seventh edition of BGBS stood out for the prominence it gave to the SME sector. Several businessmen from the SME sector got an opportunity to share their investment and expansion plans with the chief minister in the valedictory session.

"Small is always beautiful and villages are the growth centres," said Mamata, who sat with interest through the session wherein a select set of businessmen got an opportunity to speak at the summit.

During her address, Mamata also underscored one of the biggest concerns of India Inc when she spoke of central investigating agencies.

"One thing I cannot accept and that is why our industrialists would leave India?" asked Mamata. "You collect tax, but why create mental agony for them? Why will they always be concerned about agencies coming to their homes?" she asked.

The attack on the Narendra Modi government — albeit without naming him — had other elements. Mamata also questioned the justification of pushing the country towards a system of digital payments. "How many people use credit cards or debit cards in our country?" she asked.

The announcement on total investment proposals received during an investment summit — though proposals do not necessarily translate to actual investments — is looked at with keen interest in the country. That is why organising states, from Bengal to Gujarat and Odisha to Uttar Pradesh, burn midnight oil to present a number that becomes a talking point in the media and the industry.

With governments' successes in drawing enterprises to a state becoming a major political issue in the country over the last few years, a bitter war of words between the ruling party concerned and the Opposition over the implementation of proposals follows most investor summits.

The Opposition in Bengal was no exception.

The BJP leadership, oblivious about the actual investment numbers out of the Rs 33.5 lakh crore investment proposals that Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath tomtommed after the Global Investors Summit in the BJP-ruled northern state in February 2023, also doubted the veracity of the numbers rolled out by Mamata.

The outcome of the Bengal business summit is a big zero, claimed BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar.

The Bengal unit of the BJP also went after the state government over the chief minister's announcement on Tuesday that a new tender would be floated to zero in on investors for the proposed deep sea port in Tajpur, which was seen as an attempt by the ruling Trinamul in Bengal to distance itself from the controversial Adani Group, which was offered the letter of award (LoA) for the project in 2022.

"Deep sea port is not feasible for the Adani Group and they have communicated it to the government.... Now they want a Haldia-like dock system and want it in Mandarmani for which the government will have to acquire land. So, we want clear answers from the government without any obfuscation," said Jagannath Chattopadhyay, the general secretary of the Bengal unit of the BJP.

Sources in the state government said that Nabanna was aware that the Opposition would plan to make it an issue.

That's why the state government would come up with a befitting reply in a few days in a bid to ensure that it does not become a poll issue ahead of the big battle of 2024, sources added.

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