West Bengal CM battling anti-industry image | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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West Bengal CM battling anti-industry image

kolkata Updated: Jan 08, 2012 23:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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The Advanced Medicare Research Institute (AMRI) fire could not have come at a more inopportune moment for Mamata Banerjee.

The chief minister of West Bengal was trying to abandon the path of industrialisation pursued by her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and create her own model when AMRI struck, triggering questions about the rub off that it may have on investor confidence in the state.

The question began as a whisper among the city's business circles a few days after six AMRI directors were arrested by the Kolkata Police on December 9; the very day a fire broke out in the hospital killing 91 people.

The whispers culminated in an outburst by the Ficci on January 2. The industry body warned of investors being scared away if the administration was seen to discriminating against AMRI directors - all frontline investors and realtors of the state.

"Those who are not found guilty and are not responsible for day-to-day operations of any business should be released immediately," said a Ficci statement.

The next day, Banerjee said she could not release the directors, but skirted the question of erosion of investor confidence. Her words failed to buoy the industry.

Having come to power agitating for land for farmers, the ruling Trinamool Congress has been battling an anti-industry image since Banerjee was sworn in as chief minister in May last year. Investors have raised concerns about three elements of the government's policy - land policy, power tariff policy and overall financial crisis.

While the land policy does not allow acquisition for industry, Banerjee's refusal to allow power tariff hike has jeopardised the power scenario all over the state and the financial crisis has all but ensured investors will be deprived of fiscal incentives. AMRI fire adds to all these woes.

While the state government prepares to market Bengal in a programme 'Bengal Leads' next week, it would need to take urgent steps to boost investor confidence.