TT, Calcutta, July 19: Mamata Banerjee today announced the formation of a board to resolve problems faced by investors and expedite the process of industrialisation.
“Problems often crop up during the implementation of projects. The Industrial Development and Promotional Board set up today will meet every week to resolve such problems and process new proposals. The board will submit a report to the CMO every Saturday. This will expedite the (industrialisation) process,” the chief minister said at Nabanna.
The board will be headed by the state’s industry adviser, Siddharth, a former IT secretary. It will have two advisers – industries minister Amit Mitra and chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee. The secretaries of departments such as finance, commerce and industries, micro and small-scale industries, IT, food processing, tourism, land and transport will be board members.
A section of senior officials, however, questioned the need for the board when the government already had several such panels and pointed to the administration’s hitherto inflexible stand on land acquisition and SEZ status, pinpointing them as the main impediments to industrialisation that needed to be addressed.
The officials said the move showed the government’s desperation to attract investments, which eluded Bengal during its first stint.
“The sense of urgency is palpable as the government has promised to create jobs for youths over the next five years,” a senior official said.
The officials said the government already had a “full-fledged” agency to look into issues concerning industry – the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.
Soon after coming to power, the chief minister had formed a core committee on industries, a panel she chairs. The committee includes several industrialists and government officials and is supposed to meet regularly to take note of the ground situation. The committee meetings are, however, irregular.
In 2014, Mamata set up eight sectoral committees of industrialists and officials attached to the housing, IT, food processing, micro and small-scale industries, health, education, manufacturing, infrastructure, energy and tourism sectors to identify problems and suggest ways to clear bottlenecks.
But these committees also allegedly failed to meet their objectives because of the lack of investment proposals, sources said.
Sources in the industries department said issues such as the state’s hands-off land policy, its objection to doing away with the urban land ceiling act and its refusal to give the SEZ status to IT companies had hampered investment prospects.
“We faced questions on these three issues whenever we met industrialist in the past five years. The government needs to reconsider its policies,” an industries department official said.