Bengal a gamechanger for world: CM Mamata Banerjee woos investors in Spain
The Indian leader told a gathering in Barcelona that Bengal is the go-to destination for investment in industrial development.
Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of the Indian state of West Bengal (in white) and former India cricket captain and Indian cricket board president Sourav Ganguly at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid on September 16, 2023. (ANI Photo)
IN a bid to boost her industry-friendly image ahead of next year’s national elections, Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal and one of the major opposition faces, on Tuesday (19) said Bengal will be a “gamechanger” not just for India but the entire world while addressing potential investors and members of the Indian diaspora in Barcelona, Spain.
The veteran firebrand leader, who is currently on an 11-day tour of Spain, wooed foreign investors by telling them that Bengal is the go-to destination for investment in industrial development, according to surveys.
Banerjee, who has been in power in Bengal for 12 years now, is often accused of driving away a major Indian company — the Tata Group — from the state in 2008, when she was in the opposition. Her critics now accuse her of failing to create enough industries and jobs in the state.
Banerjee shared on the occasion that over the last few days, her delegate has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with La Liga, the Spanish football league. Last week, she met Javier Tebas, president of La Liga, and invited the prestigious European football league in Madrid to invest in her state to promote sports.
Official sources said the Spanish league will set up a talent-development academy in the Indian state where football is widely followed. A MoU was also signed.
“They will be the joint partners to guide and advise us in the arena of sports. La Liga asked for land to create advanced infrastructure and we have already committed to a full-fledged stadium to nurture the talent of our boys and girls. Many Spanish players, playing with our ISL and IPL groups, are very lovable and talented,” the Indian leader said.
Banerjee is accompanied on the tour of the west European nation by former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, who also announced in Spain his plan to set up a steel plant in Bengal; and a few football officials besides other officials.
Banerjee, Ganguly and some other Indian delegates also visited the iconic Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home to the Real Madrid Football Club.
Banerjee showcases Bengal in Spain
Stressing on women’s empowerment in Bengal, Banerjee said her government started initiatives to provide free education, healthcare, smartphones, cycles and ration to people. She added that her government has taken welfare to people’s doorsteps and called it one of the most unique initiatives where officials sort people’s issues at their doorsteps.
“We empowered the girl child through our Kanyashree Scheme. Earlier, before the girls turned 18, their families would be worried about how they would manage their education or marriage. We have addressed this by empowering them from school to college to university to everywhere. We also provide student credit cards which provide higher education assistance to students,” she added.
The chief minister also said at the event that Bengal is a leading state in manufacturing and exports.
“I can assure you that Bengal has evolved as an economic powerhouse that has much more to offer, as it is one of the fastest-growing economies in India. It grew at a rate of 8.41 per cent in the year 2022-23 despite the Covid-19 pandemic. West Bengal’s GDP will be more than 200 billion Euros in the coming year of the 2023-24 financial cycle,” said Banerjee.
“Why will anyone invest in Bengal?” Banerjee herself asked before explaining the reasons on why one should.
She said Bengal has ‘game-changing factors that will connect people’.
“We have a national corridor that includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, and Asia with parts of Southeast Asia as well. The corridor is the gateway to the northeastern region of the country,” she added.
“The world’s second-largest coal belt has been discovered in Bengal and we have started working on the same. We discovered gas, too and the Indian Oil Corporation is on it. We have started 100 industrial parks for development. We have earmarked land for industrial parks,” she said.
She also said that Bengal has replicated the United States’s Silicon Valley model, under which 200 acres of land has been provided so that information technology and start-up companies can begin their establishments.
Telling potential investors about Bengal’s five ‘game-changing’ business policies, Banerjee said, “The cost of operation of a business is very low in Bengal, Bengal has the best human capital, the cost of operation and labour in Bengal is very low, electricity is available round-the-clock, and excellent international and last-mile connectivity is an advantage.”