West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today pitched her state as an attractive destination for post-Brexit investments from the UK, asserting that it was a “great base” for British businesses with people who have a “constructive” and “proactive” approach. She presided over a meeting titled ‘Opportunities in Bengal’, organised by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here. “West Bengal is a gateway to the north-eastern region. Our skills, talent and technology is our advantage, which makes the state a great base for UK businesses,” Banerjee said. “The citizens of Bengal are eagerly waiting to express their hospitality. Let us work together; I believe that if there is any problem in the path of business, there is also a solution,” she said while inviting UKIBC to lead a delegation to the Bengal Global Business Summit to be held in Kolkata in January 2018. “We are business friendly and have a constructive and proactive approach,” Banerjee said. UKIBC chair Lord Davies, who steered the roundtable discussions, said he was “totally convinced” with West Bengal’s potential as an investment hub for the UK and highlighted the state’s cluster-based approach to encouraging start-ups as a major attraction. “It [West Bengal] is an incredible success story,” he said.
Amit Mitra, the state’s finance, commerce and industries minister, called on entrepreneurs across different sectors operating in West Bengal to share experiences of doing business in the state. Y K Modi, CEO of Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd, hailed the ease of doing business in the state, while Stephanie Farr of UK drinks giant Diageo flagged the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as an issue that the company was keen to work on with the state government of West Bengal. The visiting business delegation from India included Harshvardhan Neotia, chair of Ambuja Neotia Group, Tarun Jhunjhunwala of Reliance Group and Rudra Chatterjee of Luxmi Group, among others. “The kind of government we have in Bengal is compassionate, proactive and action-oriented,” said Purnendu Chatterjee, chair of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd.
Among some of the UK enterprises represented at the meeting included PwC, Standard Chartered Bank, Oxford University and British Telecom. Banerjee arrived in the UK over the weekend on a week- long investment scouting visit for West Bengal. Besides her formal engagements, including the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in memory of Scottish-Irish social worker Sister Nivedita yesterday, she has been walking the streets of London in her trademark flip-flops with her delegation of business chiefs and media persons. The chief minister is scheduled to hold a private meeting with UK-based steel tycoon Lakshmi N Mittal this evening. Banerjee will leaves for Scotland tomorrow for talks with Scottish Development Investment (SDI) among others in Edinburgh.