West Bengal as investment destination

The NDA Government at the Centre, the CPM and the Congress in West Bengal and the section of the media that has been traditionally hostile to the TMC and its leader, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, have been carrying on a relentless propaganda campaign that the climate in West Bengal is not conducive to investment. It has been often pointed out that even after holding several meetings of industrialists in Kolkata and the Chief Minister’s several visits abroad, no investment has come to the State. What is often overlooked is that a sustained negative propaganda about a State’s investment climate itself becomes a disincentive for investment and this in turn reinforces the negative impression about the State.
Recent trends, however, are proving the doomsayers wrong. After the State Government sold a 50-acre plot to the Information technology giant Infosys at Rajarhat, contiguous to sector V of Salt Lake, the company has agreed to set up a unit there. The hitch was that the company wanted to come under the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which was not acceptable to the State Government. Nabanna, on the other hand, offered to give the company all facilities sans the status of being SEZ unit. Infosys has now accepted the State Government’s proposal. Mamata Banerjee expects Infosys to make an investment to the tune of Rs 100 crore which may provide employment to about a thousand people.
Within days has come another investment proposal. This one is from the huge public sector giant, the Saudi Arabian oil company Aramco. Their representatives have met the Chief Minister and other senior officials and communicated their intention to invest in oil, gas and petroleum products in the State. Their final decision is expected shortly after the go back to Riyadh and report. The State Government has offered them land at Tajpur where a new port is coming up and expected to be operational in about four years’ time. It is not known whether ‘petroleum products’ mean different grades of fuel oil (upper distillates, middle distillates and lower distillates) or a petro-chemical complex. A petro-chemical complex is the starting point of a number of downstream industries that make a wide range of products from synthetic rubber (butadiene) to plastics (polymers).  If the Saudi Arabian investment comes it will be a big boon for West Bengal. Going by the extent of interest shown by Aramco it can be reasonably hoped that the proposed project would fructify.

Monday, 4 September, 2017