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Business summit: Bengal gets Rs. 2.5 lakh crore commitments

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Business summit: Bengal gets Rs. 2.5 lakh crore commitments

West Bengal has secured investment commitments to the tune of at least  Rs. 2,50,104 crore, Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee said on Saturday.

Speaking at the concluding day of the two-day Bengal Global Business Summit, Banerjee said discussions were on for further investments in the State.

“A rough estimate suggests that investment proposals received this year were to the tune of at least Rs. 250,104 crore. However, this figure may go up in the coming days as some discussions are under way,” she told mediapersons.

According to Banerjee, the State has not considered Central government projects and proposals of around Rs. 40,000 crore that are currently proposed or under way.

“If we consider that, then, the amount will go up further,” the Chief Minister said.

In the first edition of the summit, held in 2015, Bengal had secured investments to the tune of Rs. 243,000 crore; of which proposals worth Rs. 95,000 crore have materialised; and the remaining are under process. In 2017, the summit will be held on January 20-21.

Manufacturing and infrastructure remained the focus areas with proposals coming in to the tune of Rs.116,000 crore.

Power, IT and telecom and transport department remained the other big draws with the three accounting for investments to the tune of Rs. 26,350 crore.

Technical education remained another major gainer with proposals worth Rs. 2,000 crore.

Investment proposals were also made in other sectors like travel and tourism, fisheries, healthcare and education among others.

Big corporates

Amongst the major corporates which committed to investments, Purnendu Chatterjee’s The Chatterjee Group was the top draw with a Rs. 22,000 crore refinery project.

This apart, telecom majors like Reliance Jio and Airtel too committed to investments. Other major companies include Amity University, ITC Ltd, Shriram Group, Mitsubishi Corporation, Ambuja Neotia and others.

Logistics hub

The State Transport department, meanwhile, has entered into a MoU with the Calcutta Goods Transport Association to set up a logistics hub at Baidyabati, some 40 km north of the city. Coming up over 150 acres of land, thehub will entail an estimated investment of Rs. 5,000 crore. It will be completed in another four years.

The State also entered into a MoU with China’s Zhongtong and Dedico Transport Pvt Ltd to set up a bus manufacturing unit at Andal. The Rs. 1,500 crore facility will come up at the industrial park of BAPL’s Aerotropolis project.

MoUs were also entered into with various skill development councils and Maruti Suzuki for technical training of local youths. German technology and services major Bosch and US tech giant Hewlett Packard also entered into agreements for various projects.

While Bosch would on a pilot basis try out a traffic management app (mobile application), Hewlett Packard would look to work on tele-medicines.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 11, 2016)



Red tape plagues Central schemes

Budgeting is a tricky affair in Central government departments. Bureaucrats need to factor in national priorities, political realities and institutional capabilities to prepare a realistic annual plan. Miss any one of these factors and the plans are almost certain to remain on paper for years. This is exactly what happened with as many as 10 schemes of the Union health ministry, as pointed out by the department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare in its report tabled in the winter session. Some of these stalled projects relate to strengthening of government medical colleges, providing better health insurance for the common man and improving the supply of good quality medicine at an affordable cost – schemes that are essential to reduce out of pocket expenditure, which is one of the world’s highest in India and pushes lakhs of Indians below the poverty line every year.

One of the schemes that didn’t take off was setting up an integrated vaccine complex in Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu and a Medi Park. This was conceived in UPA-I period when PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss was the Union health minister. In subsequent months, three public sector vaccine producing units were shut down and reopened; and health ministry purchased large quantities of vaccines from the private sector for its routine immunisation programme at higher cost. With little domestic manufacturing, India continues to import bulk of the medical devices. But there is little movement on the Chengalpattu front, where it was planned to establish a vaccine production and medical device manufacturing complex. Other important policy decisions that needed to be taken to realise this goal were not taken. One such pending decision is on the modification of tax structure because existing duties make import of medical devices more lucrative rather than local manufacturing. This is known to governments for many years with barely any action. Another sloppy piece of planning is on the purchase of equipment for the six new AIIMS on which Rs 979 crore is locked due to slow progress in capital works.

On several schemes, the health ministry conveniently shifted the blame either to the 
state governments – health being a state subject, they have to be on board – or other Central departments. The ministry, however, maintained a stoic silence on a simple question – why those factors were not taken into account in the planning stage itself. All these factors are known for years, yet the ministry commits the same mistake repeatedly. The House panel has asked the department to “realistically assess” the fund requirements so that scare resources are not blocked and can be used in other projects. The ministry must act on this recommendation.


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