On eve of Bengal biz summit, contradictory stats on investment baffle experts

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On the eve of the inauguration of Bengal Global Business Summit (BGBS) 2022, contradictory statistics on investments attracted in the earlier summits furnished by the state government and the Centre have baffled the financial and economic observers of West Bengal.

According to the statistics provided by the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), from 2015 to 2019, five editions of BGBS were held, and the total investment proposals that the state government received stood at Rs 12,32,857.10 crore.

The BGBS was not held in 2020 and 2021 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the figures furnished by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the statistical arm of the Union Commerce Ministry, shows a completely different picture on this count.

As per the Central figures, during the five calendar years under review, i.e., from 2016 to 2019, West Bengal received industrial entrepreneurs memorandum (IEM) worth only Rs 37,504 crore, a little over 3 per cent of the figures highlighted by the state government.

IANS tried to speak to some Cabinet ministers in the state to seek clarification on the differential statistics, but none of them were ready to comment on the matter.

However, economic and financial observers are baffled by this difference in figures.

According to senior economic observer and columnist Santanu Sanyal, since the Central figures have state-wise and year-wise data, they sound more reliable.

“I understand that the quantum of investments for IEMs filed and that of IEMs implemented always differ for any state, since it is not necessary that every IEM filed is actually implemented. But here there is a difference in the statistics of the IEMs filed. If the state government has to contradict the Central figures, it should immediately publish a detailed breakup of IEMs received during the first five editions of BGBS,” Sanyal told IANS.

City-based investment-cum-financial consultant Nilanjan Dey told IANS that since 2015, he has been following the proceedings of BGBS.

“After every edition of the summit, the state government just quotes a figure on investment intentions received. But it forgets to give a detailed breakup of investment intentions received. The state government has never even given a sectoral breakup of investment proposals. So since the beginning I had doubts about the investment figures quoted by the state government after every summit,” Dey said.

P.K. Mukhopadhyay, a professor of economics, said that going by the Central figures, it is evident that the investment proposals came only from the small and medium enterprises segments, where the quantum of investment for each investment proposal is quite low.

“Investment proposal of just around Rs 36,000 crore in five years means an investment proposal of just around Rs 7,000 crore per year. This clearly shows that no big-ticket investment proposal was made during that period. And with the current land and special economic zone policy of the present state government, we cannot really expect big investments to come to the state,” he added.

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