Strongly committed to Bengal’s growth, assures Jaitley

Kolkata, Jan 8 (IANS) Reiterating the need for a suitable environment for industrialisation, union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday assured that the Centre will strongly back West Bengal’s quest for investment and hit out at the erstwhile Left Front regime for its failure to attract business.

Addressing the inaugural session of the two-day Bengal Global Business Summit here, Jaitley affirmed the central government’s commitment to restoring Bengal’s lost glory.

“How does an economy grow? I think the starting point is clear… you need investment and that is why all the persons on the dais anxiously look forward to an environment in which their investments could yield results.

“Investments would lead to economic activities, jobs, revenue and better infrastructure … lead to government in states having money for poverty- alleviation schemes,” he said.

“If we are not in a position to attract that investment, we will be destined to what happened in Bengal for three-and-half decades.

“If investment dries up and starts moving out, there will be no jobs, revenue, there will be hardly any growth and probably we will only have some shallow political slogans to lean back on,” Jaitley said in an obvious reference to the Left Front which was in power for 34 years before being overthrown by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress in 2011.

Blaming the policies of the past for Bengal and Kolkata being no more the industrial hub of the country, Jaitley said the state had the potential of becoming a hub of services sector.

“Bengal has many assets, it has potential for great agriculture, it has one of the best human resources in the country, it is known for its intellect. Its potential to become a hub of services sector, in educational institutions, is obvious. It has potential to become one of the best research centres in the country,” he said.

“If Bengal follows a policy which is investment- and business-friendly, I have not the least of doubts that the original glory which belonged to the state can always be restored,” he said.

Jaitley also said that issues pending with the Bengal government were attended “extremely expeditiously” so that the industrial projects in the state can be expedited.

“I have come here to assure the Bengal government that all policy initiatives that it is going to take for the industrial growth of West Bengal, the central government will support as part of its constitutional obligation,” said Jaitley.

“In our policy, interest of making eastern India grow faster will stand strongly and we will work hand-in-hand with the state not only to ensure that investments come into the state, but (also to ensure) growth rate in this part of the country is much faster,” said Jaitley.

Congratulating the Banerjee government for the summit, Jaitley said the continuous organising of such summits add to the confidence of the investors.

“The fact that such summits continuously keep happening add to the confidence of the investors that this is now the new policy direction that the government of Bengal is to follow,” added Jaitley.

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