West Bengal would continue to attract capital despite the chief minister’s anti-foreign direct investment stance in some sectors, said the state’s minister for urban development and municipal affairs, Firhad Hakim.
The Mamata Banerjee-led government was committed to protecting the interests of investors, he said. However, the government would not adopt the “fast” economic policies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but would implement Nehruvian and Gandhian economics to achieve higher economic growth.
Hakim said this to Business Standard on the sidelines of a roadshow for international financial hub at Rajarhat-New Town, Kolkata.
Hakim clarified that Banerjee’s decision to pull out of the UPA-II would not in any way impact the state’s efforts to attract investments and take economy to a higher scale. Besides, he said he hoped the Congress-led UPA-II government would not play politics when it comes to release of necessary funds to the West Bengal government.
“Our government is committed to maa, mati, manush, and aam aadmi is the focal point of economic and development policies. There won’t be any compromise on these principles. International agencies have projected Kolkata has the third fastest emerging investment destination after Mumbai and Delhi and the state government will be pro-active in taking all the necessary steps in this regard,” the minister said.
He said the state had received investment proposals of Rs 80,000 crore across sectors during the one-and-half-year rule of the Trinamool Congress. “We don’t see the current slow down impacting investment flows into the state. Instead, we believe this is the best time; when there is a economic meltdown and slow growth in the real sector. When economy will improve, we will be able to fasten growth,” he said.
On the government’s stand on the Tata Nano project, he said the project was finalised during the CPI(M)-led government. “We are with farmers and we will protect their interests. However, I want to clarify here that Tatas are keen to invest, especially in mass housing project, in West Bengal and we welcome any future investments.”
The West Bengal government’s stand on Tata’s Nano project would not dampen the investment flow, he said. Besides, IT majors such as Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant have decided to invest in the state.
On attracting investments in the proposed International Financial Hub, Hakim said initially bids would be called for acquisition of 25 acres of the 100 acres. “A couple of banks and financial institutions, including State Bank of India and United Bank of India, have expressed desire to take plots. The applicant needs to have minimum average turnover of Rs 500 crore for the last three financial years ending March 31, 2011. The offer price of the land plots is ~13 crore per acre as one-time lease premium,” he said.
IL&FS has been the advisor for the project.