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Reality check: Bengal hasn't got even 1% of investment promised

Sulagna Sengupta | Updated on: 17 December 2016, 17:50 IST

At the end of the second Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) earlier this year, the West Bengal government had claimed that the state had received investment proposals worth Rs 2,50,254 crore.

But while these figures hardly ever match the reality - these are proposals, not even Memoranda of Understanding - almost a year later, only eight companies have received 'Registration Certificate 1 (RC1)', the first step towards setting up an industry in the state.

State government sources say that four more companies are close to receiving the RC1, and would do so by the end of the year, or by January 2017 at the latest.

Only about Rs 2,000 crore of investment has materialised, from investors including the Tata group, Hitachi, ITC subsidiary Snack Foods India, NutriFood India and Sova Ispat Ltd.

According to a senior state government official, of the eight companies that have received RC1, two are supposed to invest between Rs 100-500 crore, while the other six companies will invest between Rs 10-600 crore, depending on their expansion plans.

Bleak situation?

According to leaders of Opposition parties, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to fool the people by projecting the state as a dream destination for industries.

Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, Congress's Abdul Mannan, said: "The present government is only interested in wasteful expenditure, which needs to be curtailed."

The BJP's state president, Dilip Ghosh, said: "We will urge the chief minister to concentrate more on setting up proper infrastructure so that more industrialists can come and invest in Bengal."

However, economist Suparna Mitra felt that things weren't as bleak the Opposition was claiming. "In Bengal, there is a conducive environment for setting up small and medium enterprises. The government is already giving more attention to budding entrepreneurs to set up their base in the state," she said.

What is RC1?

RC1 is the first step towards setting up an industry. After a firm obtains RC1, it has to get permissions from various government agencies.

RC1 is to be provided to industrialists within 30 days after receiving a green signal from the state government.

If there is any change in the project parametres before the commencement of commercial production at the unit - such as the company name, location, employment, investment, product, capacity etc. - the company must necessarily seek an amended certificate with the necessary supporting documents and fees. Failing this, the certificate would stand revoked.

History of the BGBS

The BGBS was first held on 7 and 8 January 2015 in Kolkata, with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley inaugurating the summit. Its primary purpose is to attract investment for the state, with representatives from various countries participating in the event. That year, the total value of investment proposals was about Rs 2,43,000 crore.

The second edition, held earlier this year in Kolkata, also featured Jaitley, along with Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The total value of the proposals was above Rs 2,50,000 crore.

The third edition is to be held on 20 and 21 January 2017 in Kolkata, and is set to be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee. Delegates from around 30 countries are expected to participate, and officials expect the proposal figure to cross Rs 2,70,000 crore.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

First published: 17 December 2016, 17:50 IST