Supriyo questions Mamata’s London visit

Kolkata, July 25 (IANS) A day ahead of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee leaves for Britain to scout for investments, union minister Babul Supriyo on Saturday questioned the efficacy of the exercise and lamented the lack of conducive industrial environment in the state.

Noted economist and NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy too said hoping investment would pour in was “too big an expectation”.

“People are yet to see anything dividend arising out of her Singapore trip, and heading to London with a delegation of over 100 members is a needless burden on the exchequer. What is the use of going on a foreign trip when people in the state are dissatisfied,” Supriyo, the minister of state for urban development, said here at an event.

“State government employees are still to get 49 percent dearness allowance and there is growing discontent among them. So when the people of Bengal themselves are not satisfied, how can one expect foreigners would invest here,” he said.

Supriyo, who is an MP from the state, said the prevalence of politics over logic has stalled the growth of eastern region of the country particularly West Bengal.

“There is lot of problems at the ground level, be it the syndicates running amuck or the lack of ease of doing business, these are actually discouraging the investors from coming to Bengal.

“It’s unfortunate that this part of the country has remained deprived due to politics prevailing over logic. A large number of industrial units have closed down in the last few years all because of politics,” he added.

Speaking in the same vein, Debroy said the government needed to do lot to ensure conducive environment for industrial development.

“It is usually said that Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and Saraswati (goddess of knowledge) don’t coexist. But once upon a time, it was West Bengal where they both lived together. It’s a different question that why they have left or been driven out of Bengal, but what is more important is can they be brought back?

“Yes definitely they can be brought back, but then the government – at different levels – has to do a lot. Unless that is done, I feel, it is a little too much to expect that investments will pour down here,” said Debroy.

Supriyo and Debroy were speaking at an Indian Chamber of Commerce organised event on economic strategy for development of eastern region.

On her six-day tour, Banerjee will be accompanied by state Finance Minister Amit Mitra and a host of industrialist including ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshwar.

The visit was finalised following an invitation from British Prime Minister David Cameron.

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