Millennium Post

Record foreign participation at 3rd Bengal biz summit

Bengal hopes to ride its growth trajectory to rope in big-ticket investors in the third edition of the Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) that kicks off in Kolkata on Friday.

The high-powered two-day business summit that will be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee will see participation from 25 countries.

In an effort to woo much-needed business capital, the state government had reached out to various parts of the country and even foreign countries in the lead up to the event, being held in the sprawling Milan Mela ground.

Russia, China, South Korea, Norway, Germany, Poland, the UAE, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore are among the overseas nations to be represented at the mega business gathering - the first after Banerjee's Trinamool Congress won a second successive term in office by sweeping the assembly polls last year.

The August 31 Supreme Court verdict ordering the return of farmland to the peasants from whom it had been taken for the Tata Motors' Nano project by the erstwhile Left Front government is another monumental development that happened in 2016.

According to state Finance, Commerce and Industries Minister Amit Mitra, there would be at least 3,000 delegates at the plenary session, including a strong presence from countries where manufacturing units are really strong. In order to ensure a strong foreign imprint, the state government organised a series of interactive sessions last September on business opportunities in Bengal at Germany's Dusseldorf, Munich and Stuttgart.

Teams had also fanned out to China and Japan last October, and Italy in November. A Chinese delegation also came to Bengal in September.

In a departure from the previous two years, key central government figures, most notably Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, would be skipping the summit.

While Jaitley's absence is being linked to his preoccupation with the February 1 budget, the deteriorating relations between the BJP-led central government and the state's Trinamool Congress regime could be a prime reason.

The Bengal chief minister, who has been vocal against the central government's decision to recall Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, has appealed to industrialists time and again to infuse money into the state to meet the huge demand for jobs.

The fresh chapter of the summit would focus on boosting start-ups in the state. Earlier, Bengal finance minister Mitra said the state was working with IIM Calcutta and iSpirit, an NGO associated with start-ups so that the state could help home-grown start-ups take flight. The state government has identified 11 thrust areas for attracting investment, such as transport, civil aviation, mining, power, medium and small-scale enterprises, IT and ITeS and infrastructure.

The sessions would include sector-wise discussions to project the possibilities and potential of Bengal in front of investors.

According to the state government, the 2015 summit had fetched investment proposals to the tune of Rs 2.43 lakh crore and the 2016 edition received over Rs 2.5 lakh crore of investment proposals.
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