Bengal offers better ease of business

According to a recent survey conducted by the Centre’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), West Bengal has moved up five places in ranking in two years from 2016 to 2018 and now occupies the 10th spot in ease-of-doing-business list. The DIPP conducted the survey in collaboration with the World Bank and took feedback from the ‘users’. The credit goes to the government of Mamata Banerjee and refutes the charge often made by her political detractors, especially the BJP and the CPM, that West Bengal has made little progress in creating a favourable climate for doing business in the State.
The industrial resurgence has happened in a State which was ‘de-industrialized’ by the Left Front Government during its nearly three and a half decades of rule. First, ‘militant’ trade unionism led to the closure of many factories and there was a flight of capital from the State which was once one of the most industrialized States. Many cotton and jute mills on either side of the Ganga upstream of Kolkata were closed down and the land on which the factories stood were bought up by promoters and developers to build apartment houses for the rich and the upper middle class people. That land can never be taken back and used for industries.
Later, by the early nineties of the last century the Left Front Government suddenly woke up to the necessity of wooing industrialists and setting up new industries in Bengal.. In 1994, toward the end of Jyoti Basu’s stewardship of the State, the Left Front Government adopted a new industrial policy which, among other things, first welcomed foreign capital. But by then the Left Front had turned West Bengal into a “No No” for prospective investors and industrialists. Seventeen years later, when the Left Front was thrown out of power, the pendulum had swung to the other extreme in the opposite direction. In his eagerness to industrialize West Bengal, the then Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee laid out the red carpet for big industrialists and handed over fertile multi-crop land to them for a song by forcibly evicting peasants.
The resistance movement that grew ultimately voted out the Left. They exited from power, leaving a huge debt burden of nearly Rs.2 lakh crore. It was a debt-ridden State that Mamata inherited. From there in just seven years she has made West Bengal an investor-friendly State. Today there is no militant trade unionism, no periodic Bangla Bandhs and the law and order situation has vastly improved to assure businessmen that West Bengal is a safe investment destination. The credit goes to her.

Thursday, 12 July, 2018