Calcutta Chamber of Commerce: the oldest chamber of commerce in IndiaCalcutta Chamber of Commerce: the oldest chamber of commerce in India

Major Events 2017-18
October 01, 2018
Inaugural Session of the 187th AGM of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce

Hon'ble Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Government of India Shri Jayant Sinha addressed the Inaugural Session of the 187th AGM of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce on October 01, 2018

Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Shri Jayant Sinha while speaking on Farm to Frontier : A Different Development Model for India, in the 187th Annual General Meeting of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce said that people are going to get up to 5 lakh of coverage for their health treatments through a cashless portable way - all that is needed is to show their Gold Card in the place of treatment.

Mr. Sinha said the Government is on the way to make a platform called DG Yatra as well as building an extraordinary platform for drones to enable automated traffic management for the digital sky. According to Shri Sinha such platforms will enable people to get to the productivity frontier and hence they act as game changers for India's development. There are many frontier industries and frontier companies where people are very productive, generating high output, developing more ways of innovations and thus making them globally competitive too, he pointed out. He said the challenges for us now, as we have about total formal jobs of 75 billion or so, out of which Government jobs are about 15 million and we have other jobs of about 50 million, is to think about how we can increase the number of direct frontier jobs as well as develop more and more ways of innovations.

Shri Sinha also pointed out that this frontier industries give employment to 10 million people out of which 4 million are in IT services. They are supporting additional 30 million jobs in indirect frontier job, he said and we can go from 10 million frontier jobs to 50 million frontier jobs in the next 20 years, he added, which means 2 million jobs a year. And hence, the total number of jobs that are linked to highly productive industries, like IT Services, automotive banking aviation may create 200 million jobs and then we can really transform India and that is what we have to try for, he commented.

By following this development model, our GDP per capita will likely increase from about $1,800 to $5,400 and overall GDP will reach about $10 trillion in the next 20 years - making us a prosperous middle-income country.

Answering to the queries of industrialists, Shri Sinha also hinted at the investments to be done at airports for their uplift and said Rs.1 lakh crore investments will be done for giving facelift to the airports in the next 15 to 20 years, when the Government will try to massively increase the airports capacities three to four times. He even hinted at the financial package for making Air India strong and vibrant and added that financial packages, series of reforms for transformation as well as a series of strategies will be undertaken to give Air India a complete facelift.

Shri Rajendra Khandelwal, the outgoing President, welcomed the gathering and the incoming President Shri Om Prakash Agarwal proposed vote of thanks at the inaugural Session of 187th AGM of the Chamber. The meeting was attended by the most respectable leaders of the business fraternity and senior members of the diplomatic core.

August 18, 2018
Special Session on "Equity Markets, Economy and Impact on Mutual Fund Industry"

The Session was addressed by Shri Yogesh Bhatt, Senior Vice President-Investments, ICICI Prudential Asset Management Company Limited.

Shri Yogesh Bhatt said - after really good returns last year, the markets are right now consolidating. There are a lot of worries here in the market in terms of crude oil prices, US interest rates, likely elections in this coming year, as well as what is going to happen between US and China as far as trade is concerned. Volatility is there for all these reasons. There will be alternate bouts, which will come positive and negative, which will create volatility. Hence, we are recommending investors to practice and execute the 'asset allocation plan'. They should look at some defensive sectors right now which are IT, pharma and some of these banking recovery stocks, plus the consumption sector. Power as a sector is also very interesting right now.

He also added that we are very clearly recommending investors not to put any lump-sum money in mid and small caps right now. Though there is a correction which has happened in the last five months, so typically it has underperformed the Nifty by 14 per cent. But we still feel that the valuation gap between mid-caps and small-caps and the large caps are still very wide, and hence we are not recommending any lump-sum investment. But yes, definitely after this correction, investors can start real long-term SIPs into small-caps if they want.

August 21, 2018
Special Session on "Indian Economy and its Challenges"

The Session was addressed by Shri Shatrughan Prasad Sinha, Hon'ble M.P. (Loksabha), Shri Pavan Kumar Varma, Hon'ble M.P. (Rajyasabha) & Smt. Roopa Ganguly, Hon'ble M.P. (Rajyasabha). The Session was moderated by Shri Sanjay Pugalia, President and Editorial Director, The Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd.

Shri Pavan Kumar Varma in his address commented that the state of our economy is something like Maya - " It is not as if nothing has been achieved in the last four years of the rule of the NDA. But what exactly has been achieved, and in what quantum, is a matter of debate, occupying a space somewhere between fact and illusion. For instance, the government claims, with statistics to back it, that India has become the fastest growing economy in the world, with the highest GDP growth rates. Others question the statistics themselves and assert that they are fudged by an act of statistical jugglery". GDP growth is not above seven per cent as claimed, but at least two percentage points lower. Besides, critics say, if, indeed, we are the fastest growing economy, why doesn’t some of the dividends of this growth show on the ground? For instance, why are we still, out of 119 countries, at 100th position in the World Hunger Index, slipping three positions further down between 2016 and 2017, and substantially behind even Nepal or Bangladesh?

Pavan Varma was critical about demonetisation and said although the decision to implement it was taken with a good intention it was not implemented properly and led to a lot of problems.

Questioning the prevailing democratic situation in the country, BJP MP Shri Shatrughan Sinha, said democracy in India has "relapsed a lot". He said "Some of the incidents that we have noticed were not desirable. This (Supreme Court judges coming out in public) was first time it happened in the history of Indian democracy. I am not saying what's right or wrong. I am saying how the situation came to a pass where they had to come out and talk to media." Speaking on the controversy relating to the draft National Register of Citizens in Assam, he said: "Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that no genuine Indian would face any injustice. Others (people who were left out of the draft NRC) will have options to appeal. The matter is on way to getting resolved." Criticising the Centre on demonetisation and implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), he said a "complicated GST" was rolled out when the country had "not fully recovered from the note-ban shock".

Smt. Roopa Ganguly in her speech claimed that the Government performed exceedingly well in the last four years and come up with various projects. Thinking in terms Acche Din is itself a leap forward to Acche din. It is indeed a great achievement when a citizen of the country can write to the Prime Minister. She also indicated the significant measures taken by the government like Digital India, Demonetization, GST, a couple of Bills. On mission 2019, she remarked that the focus should not be on election but on socio economic activities of the country.

September 20, 2018
Special Session on "MSMEs – The Growth Engine of Indian Economy"

The Session was addressed by Shri Alapan Bandyopadhyay, IAS, Hon'ble Additional Chief Secretary, Department of MSMEs & Textiles, Government of West Bengal.

Shri Alapan Bandyopadhyay stated that MSME is a potential sector in creating opportunities for the youth and added that the "single window video conference" between a group of senior officials in Kolkata and representatives of business houses in the districts for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) entrepreneurs will begin before Durga Puja. He said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had stressed up on the need for further intervention at the grass root level in the districts to ensure worldwide presence of Bengal's MSME sector and directed the officials of the MSME and Textiles department to initiate "single window video conference" for any sort of issue cropping up at the grass root level. He said: "The video conference will initiate in the next few weeks."

He further urged to highlight the matter related to the opportunities of job creation in the MSME sector. He stated that it is a potential sector in creating opportunities for the youth and that the industrial parks are getting developed in the PPP mode. He urged the MSME entrepreneurs to come to the industrial parks for their business. Shri Bandyopadhyay interacted with the entrepreneurs present at the programme and listened to the problems they are facing. He also assured them of necessary help in solving the problems.

July 10 2018
Special Session on Business Opportunities in Resurgent United States of America

The Session was addressed by Mr. Craig L Hall, Hon'ble Consul General of USA in Kolkata, as Chief Guest & Keynote Speaker.

US Consul General Mr. Craig Hall, said initiatives such as 'Make in India' and 'Make in America would not augur well for countries other than these two countries as bi-lateral trades with other countries will be adversely affected. "The trade relations between the two countries are growing in strength to strength. But after India started concentrating on Make in India products, there is a trade deficit of 29 billion dollar. This is not healthy. The US remains a top trading partner where opportunities are more than challenges," said Hall. He also said that the US is keen on more defence cooperation with India and doesn't want to see India merely as a buyer. The US wants strategic relationship with India, US Consul General in Kolkata said. He also added that there is ample scope for collaboration between India and US firms in small and medium enterprises (SME). He further said that the US cannot invest in India in some sectors like pulses, education and have also urged to the Indian government to reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers(NTBs).

July 7 2018
Special Session on Furthering Trade Ties Between India and Philippines

The Session was addressed by H.E.(Mrs.) Maria Teresita C. Daza, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Philippines. She was the Chief Guest & Keynote Speaker.

Mrs Maria Teresita C Daza, the Ambassador of the Philippines said that India and Philippines are soon to be better connected by air as direct flights from Philippines to Delhi and Mumbai are soon to be introduced which will help both countries bridge the distance gap. Mrs Daza said : "We realise that though India and Philippines are working towards strengthening their bilateral times, more needs to be done in increasing connectivity between the countries. At present, we do not have direct flights but I am glad to mention that soon direct flights are being started from Manila to Delhi and Mumbai while Kolkata is still on the cards". She pointed out that it is now the best time for India to invest in their country as it registered a GDP of 6.7 per cent last year while it is expected to go up to 6.8 by the end of this financial year.

June 21 2018
187 years Celebration Lecture on "Kolkata & its Challenges"

Janab Firhad Hakim, Hon'ble Minister for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, Government of West Bengal was the Chief Guest & keynote speaker. Shri Subrata Gupta, IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, Government of West Bengal, Shri Jawhar Sircar (IAS Retd.), Former CEO, Prasar Bharati, Shri Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya, Chairman, West Bengal Heritage Commission & Ms.Monideepa Banerjie, Executive Editor - East, NDTV, Kolkata were Guests of Honour.

Highlighting the initiatives of the Government of West Bengal, Hon'ble Minister Shri Firhad Hakkim informed that for solid waste management, plants for generation of power using waste in the city is being considered. He also said that the Government of West Bengal received the Skoch order of merit award this year for its seven flagship projects like floating market in Patuli, installation of solar high mast LED lights at Jaigaon in Alipurdwar, green zone in Kolkata, online module for Municipal Property Tax payment 'Somobyathi project payment gateway services by Asansol - Durgapur Development Authority and rejuvenation of eco-tourism complex at Sahebbandh in Purulia Town.

Shri Subrata Gupta said that if we compare the population growth we see that Kolkata is growing @4.1% per year in terms of population. The issues which confront Kolkata is not a very small number, because this translates to about 6,31,000 additional population per year which is about 1730 people per day. The State Government has taken up several policies, civic amenities have improved significantly, but we are still bit behind some of the big cities.

Commenting on the conservation of Heritage Structures Shri Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya pointed out that West Bengal is rich with the heritage of old civilizations and being a colonial city, there exist a number of Heritage Buildings and Structures in the Urban areas of this State. The Government has already taken laudable steps to restore heritage in many instances. He welcomed involving private capital in the restoration of the city's heritage, but umpteen steps required for preservation and conservation of Heritage Buildings located in this State.

Shri Jawhar Sircar remarked that one thing is to be looked into that there should be a demarcated hawker zones and that the hawker zone should be a better looking structure. He said that more than half of Kolkata eats on the footpath. The most dangerous thing is water in the footpath which is contaminated. So we should have fresh water tap with outlets. This will be a pro-people stand.

Ms. Monideepa Banerjie said that the Government has announced Niloshree Prakalpa. Niloshree is housing for people with salary under 30,000 rupees. This is a very good thought because perhaps it will take care of Kolkatans who are living on the streets, Kolkatans who are living in the slums who have nothing and Kolkatans who don't have any quality of life and those of the people that we need to address. So Niloshree is a great idea but it is too little too late.

June 20 2018
187 years Celebration Lecture on Human Resources Development for Socio-Economic Development

Shri Ananta Kumar Hegde, Hon'ble Minister of State for skill Development &nmp; Entrepreneurship, Government of India was Chief Guest & Keynote Speaker. Shri Pradip Chopra, Chairman, Ilead- Institute of Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Development was Guest of Honour.

Hon'ble Union Minister of State for Skill Development Shri Ananta Kumar Hegde said Sanskrit was going to be the coding language for future supercomputers. Referring to the skill development programme, Shri Hegde said the Centre had already started the Indian Skill Development Service (ISDS) on the lines of the IAS and the IPS. He said Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of the first Indian Institute of Skill in Kanpur and each state was slated to have one such institute.

Shri Pradip Chopra referred from Wealth of Nation where Mr. Adam Smith said that the future wealth of the country will not be the physical assets or the other assets, the real asset are the trained and educated manpower. Any country that can have the largest pool of trained and skilled manpower they would practically rule the world. Fortunately we have the largest pool of talent and all we need to do is to empower them with skill and education.

May 11 2018
Strategizing Business Growth with Make in India & National MSMEs Excellence Awards jointly with ASSOCHAM

Dr. Mou Sen, Joint Director, Directorate of MSMEs, Ministry of MSME, West Bengal said in her speech that in order to streamline the process of grievances redressal of MSMEs in the state, the West Bengal Government has launched SWAS Mobile App where entrepreneurs can post their queries and get replies within five days. She said West Bengal has the largest number of MSMEs and the department was adopting digital technology to deal with issues in the sector, specially grievance redressal. The MSME department is reducing physical interaction and using technology instead, for a smarter approach towards resolving grievances. She said SWAS App was designed to provide timely reply as inaction at the lower level is directly escalated to the next higher level and so on. Smt. Sen said this has made the officers at all levels accountable for their nonperformance, ensuring settlement of reported problems.

May 05, 2018
187 years Celebration Lecture Series on "Empowering Women from Inside. And Outside!"

Shri Sujay Kr. Chanda, IPS, Joint Commissioner of Kolkata Police (Establishment), Ms. Alokananda Roy, Noted Danseuse & Reformist, Smt. Agnimitra Paul, Fashion Designer & Social Activist and Smt. Priyanka Deb, State Project Manager, Kanyashree Prakalpa, Department of Women & Child Development and Social Welfare, Govt. of West Bengal were Guests of Honour.

Mrs. Priyanka Deb, State Project Manager for Kanyashree Prakalpa claimed "Kanyashree Prakalpa has reduced child marriage in West Bengal,". The scheme has become a symbol of change in the state by increasing the number of girls studying in schools and appearing for board exams. Kanyashree launched on 1 October 2013 by Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee is a conditional cash transfer system to the bank account of an adolescent unmarried girl who is studying. Kanyashree was an initiative by the West Bengal government to improve the life and status of the girls by helping economically backward families with cash. The scheme has two components – annual scholarship and one time grant.

Over 48 lakh girls in West Bengal have benefitted in the globally recognized 'Kanyashree' project in the state in the past four and half years. The 'Kanyashree' project is known world-wide as Bengal's flagship project aimed at empowerment of adolescent girls and since its implementation five years ago there has been positive changes in male peer groups in a locality and among male guardians of a household. There had been Rs.1.6 crore cash transactions for 48.37 lakh girls from 16,679 educational institutions across the state during that period.

Joint CP, Kolkata Police (Establishment) Sujoy Chanda, said while there are various safeguards for women the ground reality is still different. The young people of the society are drivers of change. "Women are offered low-skilled jobs with lower wage,". According to him, Indians do not give enough importance to girl children. Mr Chanda said the country is in a sorry state with regard to women’s empowerment. Sex selective abortion still exists in India and the country has recorded more than one lakh illegal abortions in the past one year, he added. Till today, male literacy rate is higher than women and "Women are treated as second class citizens in India,".

There are severe problems in the society, a boy and a girl do not get equal importance at home nor do they get equal share of food, leading to anaemia in women later in life. The vulgar on indecent projection of women in television brings down her level to a commodity leading to disrespect from people. Life imprisonment for bride burners has brought down the number of bride burning cases in India.

Ms Alokananda Roy, noted danseuse and reformist, was of the opinion that it is only gender equality which can stop all the evils befalling women in the society today. "Knowledge, awareness and employment skills are the things that a woman need to know to empower themselves," she said. Fashion Designer Ms. Agnimitra Paul also talked about ways to empower women at the discussion.

Fashion Designer Ms. Agnimitra Paul also talked about ways to empower women at the discussion. She remarked that according to UNESCO report, 481 million women lack the basic literacy skill around the globe. Other than the financial constraints and gender based discrimination, there is a high rate of dropping out of school. She said that we need to empower women, especially the underprivileged girls and facilitate them to get the 21st Century skills. - knowledge, awareness and employability skills.

April 04, 2018
187 years Celebration Lecture Series on Special Session On "Promoting India - Vietnam Partnership"

H.E. Mr. Ton Sinh Thanh, Ambassador, Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was the Chief Guest. Mr. Krishnan Srinivasan, Former Foreign Secretary of India and Mr. Geetesh Sharma, President, "INDO-VIETNAM SOLIDARITY COMMITTEE" were the Guests of Honour.

Interacting with the members of Calcutta Chambers of Commerce, Ambassador of Vietnam to India Ton Sinh Thanh said the trade between the two countries was not upto the expectation. Vietnam today sought more investment from India, as it felt there is scope for further improvement in trade volume between the two countries. "We understand that Indian companies are investing abroad, but for Vietnam the figure is still very little. While we receive lots of foreign investment offers from other countries, the investment from India is just a very small part of our foreign investment (one billion US dollar)" he said.

Mr. Thanh said, "majority of trade between Vietnam and India come from other parts of country like Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, but not much from Kolkata,". The total foreign investment after 30 years has accumulated to 320 billion US dollars with more than 25,000 projects, he said. Elaborating on opportunities in business in Vietnam in terms of trade and investment, he said, "We are now a market of nearly 100 million people with quite a big number of bigger income bracket. There are lot of opportunities, very liberal investment regulations and lot of incentives," he said. He said the two nations have developed comprehensive strategic partnership based on strategic interest and very high level of mutual trust since the last visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On the intensive exchange of visits at high level, he said during first three months of this year "India received two highest leaders of Vietnam – both PM and President." The two countries have a political relationship which will be a good foundation for economic cooperation, he said. On his country’s potential in tourism, Thanh said Vietnam received 13 million foreign tourists last year. "In terms of tourism we are growing very fast. We hope more Indian tourists will visit Vietnam," he said adding that Vietnam would introduce a flight between Ho Chi Minh City and New Delhi by September this year.

Mr. Krishnan Srinivasan said India's dilemma is that it seeks to be a potential global power without being able to establish itself firmly as the predominant country in the subcontinent, former foreign secretary of India. "The paradox is if India has to be the leading power in South Asia, the strategists feel it will have to prevent any Chinese advances into South and South-East Asia". "There is lots of convergence of Vietnamese and Indian interests since both are concerned with checking the advances of China in a southernly direction," he said.

He said both India and Vietnam have border issues with China and made distinctions between economic and security factors in their respective relationships. Srinivasan said China is the biggest trade and economic partner of Vietnam and high on relations with another trade partners India. Regional cooperation between India and China is inevitable as is the case of regional competition, he said. "If it is peaceful and culture, economics-driven it is healthy," the former Foreign Secretary said. He said security cooperation in ASEAN, of which Vietnam is a part, is guided by two road strategy factors -the American military superiority in the Asia-Pacific region, and the question of balancing China’s growing ascendancy in the region.

"These two factors are considered to be given and sought to be accommodated in a regional strategic framework," Srinivasan said. Observing that ASEAN countries are nearly unanimous in welcoming Indian strategic presence in the group, he said there were some countries like Malayasia and Indonesia that might still have some reservations.

"On the other hand Vietnam has been India's long standing friend in ASEAN. Vietnam supported every move by India, liked every move of India to upgrade its relationship with ASEAN," he said. On India-Vietnam cultural ties, he referred to cultural events, people to people interactions and human capacity building. Srinivasan also referred to the joint restoration project of the UNESCO heritage site in Vietnam aimed at underlining the ancient Hindu civilisation linkage between the two countries. He said India had set up a cultural centre in Hanoi last year and provided training to armed forces and civilians.

Stressing the need to continue maintaining and promoting the friendship between the two countries, Mr. Geetesh Sharma said that there are lots of possibilities, lots of facilities. With proper market survey, we can export many things to Vietnam and Vietnam can export many things to India.

February 28, 2018
187 years Celebration Lecture Series on "Prospects for Economic Growth and the Policy Imperatives for India"

Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon'ble former President of India was the Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker.

Former President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee said that there was a need to have political stability in the country for its economic growth. Shri Mukherjee said, "Between 1989 and 1999, the country witnessed five Lok Sabha polls instead of the usual two LS elections. People did not like this instability. These frequent changes were disliked by the voters as there was a weak government and for which a change was mandatory. In 2014, over 80 crore people voted for a stable government, when the parliamentary pundits were thinking about bringing amendments in the Constitution to bring in stability. I do not mind which party gained majority, but I am happy. It brought stability."

Shri Mukherjee further said - "We need to look at agriculture and there is no room for complacency. The country has 132 crore population and this population will have to be fed. India's 48 per cent population is now below 40 years (of age). So, we need to improve their skills into GDP growth". He pointed out, "But when we talk about agriculture, it is not just the production of the food grains alone. Rural infrastructure, irrigation, rural health, education, sanitation and housing should also be developed,".

Tracing the growth of the economy from a snail's space to a much needed acceleration with occasional hiccups, the former President zeroed in on the causes which led to the economy's set back. As the country's economy was riding high in the first decade of this millennium, the indiscretion and recklessness of Lehman Brothers led to banking crisis the world over and had its fall out on the Indian Economy, he said.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee said the country has to overcome challenges in agriculture, employment and power to become a sustainable economy with a substantial growth rate. Claiming that the economy has the potential of growing at a rate of eight to nine percent every year, he urged the current government to work towards addressing not just the major challenges but also the related issues through "cooperative federalism". He added "By 2025, India would become a $5 trillion economy from $2.224 trillion now. But it would only be possible if all the points of deficiency are adequately addressed,". "Hungry people, malnutritioned children, unemployed youth -- these three are the major challenges in the country. Also, the power generation and its impact on the environment has to be monitored."

He said the success of the Indian economy would heavily depend on its ability to train and skill a large number of youths and get them ready for the world market. "India has the youngest population in the world but unless we train them, give them employment, enhance their expertise and make them available for the market in the world. "It is the biggest challenge for our government to ensure how quickly we can skill and train our young generations," he added. Mukherjee exuded confidence that the Indian economy has the resilience to address challenges, find out appropriate solutions and take corrective measures. "But mere policy formations are not adequate, it needs effective implementation," he added.

February 6, 2018
"Panel Discussion & Interactive Session on Union Budget - 2018-19"

Shri Yashwant Sinha, Hon'ble Former Union Minister of Finance graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Shri Dinesh Trivedi, Hon’ble Member of Parliament was the Guest of Honour. The Panelists were Shri Pulak Saha, Partner - Indirect Tax, Price Waterhouse & CO. LLP and Shri Narayan Jain, eminent tax consultant.

Shri Yashwant Sinha said, "This time, we have just three-and-a-half day for discussion on the President’s address, Rail Budget and General Budget. Previously, we had three days for discussion on Presidential address, three days for Rail Budget and three days for General Budget. I do not understand (why the Centre is ) allotting such little time for debate this time. Is it to ensure that Parliamentarians do not have enough time to discuss the finer points of lapses in the Budget?"

He said, "When the earlier central VAT had only three slabs namely merit, mean and demerit, so many slabs in GST defeats the very purpose of the new tax regime meant for simplification of tax structure. The Union Finance Minister has thoroughly failed in guiding the exercise to have a simplified indirect tax structure". He also said there is distress in rural India with farmers’ income declining by 1.38% in the last four years. "There is tremendous rural distress and it is not merely because agricultural growth rate has declined. The distress is because the farmer is actually getting one third or 50% of the price of his produce when compared to the minimum support price," he said. We must deal with effectively the growing non-performing assets of the banks. If banks are not healthy then investments, especially private investments will suffer". "(Further) because of policy paralysis or implementation issues, we have a large number of projects that are held up. Perhaps bank NPAs are largely accounted for by the fact that projects are stopped. Those projects must be expedited".

Shri Dinesh Trivedi remarked that "this is not a budget, this is an election manifesto. It is an appropriate opportunity for us in Parliament to move a Privilege Motion. Parliamentarian should move a Privilege Motion because the government is knowingly misleading the nation. They are not consulting the State and announcing a huge document on the floor of the house. This is immoral, it is not acceptable". He added "Since achhe din are nowhere in sight, please give us back our bure din".

Commenting on Cess, Shri Narayan Jain said that the government was complicating the system by introducing one after another cess. Further, the move to impose Long Term Capital Gain and the decision to retain the STT will dampen the investor sentiments. The tax will adversely affect investors.

According to Shri Pulak Saha anything relating to GST would be decided by the GST Council. If there would be any legal issue it would be sent to the Law Committee and based on that Law Committee recommendation the government will implement it. The government brought in couple of simplifications in customs legislation and advance ruling. The customs amendments were brought in keeping in mind the government’s intention of ease of doing business. First time in the customs, pre notice consultation has been brought. This pre notice consultation is being followed in central excise and service tax.

December 30, 2017
Inaugural Session of the Celebration of 187 years of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce and Seminar on "Revitalizing Parliamentary Democracy in India"

Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Hon'ble Vice President of India was the Chief Guest and inaugurated the meeting. Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi, Hon’ble Governor of West Bengal and Shri Firhad Hakim, Hon’ble Minister, Dept of Urban Development & Municipal Affairs Department, Govt. of West Bengal graced the occasion as Guests of Honour.

The Hon'ble Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu said that the Parliament should not become a platform for scoring political brownie points. There is no other alternative but to ensure that Parliament functions in an effective and responsive manner to further peace, progress and prosperity in the country, he added.

The Vice President expressed concern over the functioning of Parliament in the backdrop of the severe criticism from various quarters, including the parliamentary fraternity itself.  He added "This criticism may be due to a decline, in recent years, in both the quantity and quality of parliamentary work". The Vice President said that over the years, Parliament's legislative business and the number of hours it devotes to debate crucial issues of national importance have come down. Even, the relatively fewer days when the Parliament meets are often marked by pandemonium, resulting in frequent adjournments on trivial topics, he added.

The Vice President said that disruptions during parliament session are a matter of great concern as they have become the order of the day with the political parties failing to rein in their members.  He further said that at present 'healthy debate and discussions, the hallmark of Parliamentary democracy' are overshadowed by disruption, confrontation, and forced adjournments of the house. There is a need for political parties to arrive at a consensus on this important issue so that the precious time of the Parliament and legislatures is not wasted on issues which can be best resolved through debates and dialogues.

December 22, 2017
Panel Discussion on "MSMEs – The Engine of Growth" conducted jointly with Business Standard.

The panel discussion was addressed by Shri Rajiva Sinha, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and Textiles, Government of West Bengal and Shri Dipankar Dasgupta, former Professor, Indian Statistical Institute.

Speaking at the event, Shri Rajiva Sinha, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Micro and Small Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and Textiles, Government of West Bengal, said the state exported a large number of skilled labourers in sectors such as foundry, garments, leather and gems and jewellery to other states, and it was an asset which the government needed to capitalize upon. "In case of big industries like steel or cement, job created per crore is close to five, whereas in case of small units, job created per crore is about 50-60. So this is a wealth that we need to capitalize. The traditional workforce is here, and ease of doing business is at par with any other part of the country," said Shri Sinha. He added that statistics showed there had been a tremendous growth in the MSME sector in West Bengal in the past five years.

Shri Dipankar Dasgupta, former Professor at the Indian Statistical Institute said, keeping in mind the problem of unemployment, MSMEs could provide an alternative solution to big industries in the state. "MSMEs have lower capital requirement than big industries. Keeping the problem of unemployment in mind, focusing on the MSME sector growth the right way to go ahead for industrialization. Hence, for a state like West Bengal, where there are not many big industries, MSMEs can be an engine of growth. In fact, MSMEs account for about 90 per cent of industrial units in West Bengal," said Shri Dasgupta. Given the diversity in different districts of West Bengal, West Bengal should focus on developing industries based on the inherent strength of east district. This would also help to bring unregistered units under mainstream economy in the state.

"The government has been trying to integrate MSMEs with mainstream economy. The number of registered units have been on increase. The only problem is that across the districts of West Bengal, there is huge disparity in terms of number of units. For example, Howrah has the highest number of industrial units, whereas Darjeeling has the lowest number of units. There is probably, one issue that the government can look into, that is try find out which districts are best suited for which kind of units,"" said Shri Dasgupta.

October 24, 2017
"Bengal - Accelerating Growth" Conclave organized by Chambers of Commerce in Kolkata

Dr. Amit Mitra, Hon'ble Minister-in-Charge, Department of Finance and Department of Industry Commerce & Enterprises, Government of West Bengal was the Chief Guest and Dr. Partha Chatterjee, Hon'ble Minister-in-Charge, Department of School Education, Higher Education, Parliamentary Affairs, Biotechnology, Science and Technology and Shri Gautam Deb, Hon'ble Minister of Tourism, Government of West Bengal were Guests of Honour.

Dr Amit Mitra said that West Bengal was ranked number three in the country in terms of ease of doing business and is the fourth largest economy in the country. He said, "The GDP of Bengal, when we had assumed power, was 4.5 lakh crore and today, after six years, it is in excess of 10 lakh crore with a growth rate of 12.02 per cent. Bank lending is one of the important indicators of industrial growth. From 2011-12 to 2016-17, commercial banks of Bengal have lent Rs 1,82,026 crore to industries. He added that a major chunk of that amount was lent to micro and small industries.

Referring to the implementation of GST, he said that "It was an unfortunate, 'zabardasti', roll out on July 1. A beta test of GST was conducted on only 200 business houses per state and even there, the failure rate was 30 per cent." "You see the consequences now. There had been tweaking in the GST rates every time the council met. This is the result of hasty implementation of GST," Mitra said adding, West Bengal was always in favour of the new tax regime as it would do away with the multiplicity of taxes.

State education and biotechnology minister Dr Partha Chatterjee said that in the last six years, there had been no militant trade unionism and not a single event of strike.

Tourism Minister Sri Goutam Deb said the West Bengal government is creating infrastructure to bring remotest corners of the state onto the tourist map. He said, "The state is also the first to have a branch secretariat in North Bengal at Uttar Kanya. Also there has been development of schools, colleges, highways, sport complex, to attract people, investments and tourism prospects in the state. He informed the audience "We invite private parties to invest in tourism which also is a sector that has huge employment facilities. A tourism hub, the first of its kind is coming up in Gajaldoba near Siliguri. This will have a beautiful setting complete with bird sanctuary, Farraka barrage on one side, water bodies, golf courses, hotels and ample scope for safari,"


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