President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday dwelt on the issue of cooperative federalism at the Bengal Global Business Summit here, saying every state is important in the context of the entire nation.
“When I was sent the invitation to attend the meet, I thought whether it will be proper to do that as President of the republic. But I felt that as India has cooperative federalism, it lays on the strength of every state. India’s strength lies in cooperative federalism especially when it comes to economic development,” he said.
Mukherjee, recounting the past glory of West Bengal, said the state had to bear the brunt of Partition and growth retardation because of “unfortunate circumstances and conditions”.
Lauding efforts of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in her presence, he said that in the last 6-7 years, necessary ingredients had been created to restart the growth story.
Be it in infrastructure or anything else, West Bengal is the destination for investments, Mukherjee noted, adding that the once debt-stressed state had shown buoyancy in revenue collection.
“There has been a sea change in the country post-liberalisation and collapse of the controlled economy. In Bengal, she has done a fine job. Investments have increased and Bengal is poised for new heights of economic development,” the President said.
Highlighting efforts of the West Bengal government to provide an investor-friendly environment, Mukherjee said: “As a finance minister, I know how debt-stressed the state was. Keeping aside those legacy and baggage, it is moving ahead with liberal policies to create an appropriate investor climate.”
He appreciated West Bengal’s reportcard on infrastructure, good road, adequate electricity, skilled manpower and investor friendly policies and hoped that the summit helps the state reach a new high in terms of investment “to occupy its right place which was lost some time back”.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee exhorted investors to invest in the state even as they are facing some problems due to demonetisation.
“Though we are facing some hardships due to demonetisation or remonetisation and some traders and small industries are not able to pay to their workers, we would like to invite investors to invest in our state,” she said.
She highlighted the conducive environment being created in the state for investors. “Before five years, the industry faced loss of mandays. Now, it is zero,” she claimed.
On the first day of the event, two industrialists committed investment of up to Rs 14,000 crore in the next few years in the state.
Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi, State Finance Minister Amit Mitra, top industrialists Sanjiv Goenka, Pankaj Munjal, Rakesh Bharti Mittal and Kishore Biyani as well as cricketer Sourav Ganguly were present at the inaugural event.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, gave the programme a miss.
Bangladesh Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, China’s CPPCC Jaiangsu Provincial Committee Vice-Chairman Fan Yanging, North Rhine West Phalia Vice-Minister Guenther Horzetky, Mayor of Incheon city in Korea YooJeong bok, and Bangladesh Post and Telecommunication Minister Begum Tarana Halim were also in attendance.
The 2-day event is being attended by representatives from over 27 countries and 3,000 overseas delegates.