The Annual General Meeting 2016 of The Bengal Chamber
of Commerce and Industry was held on 14th September
2016, at the Chamber premises. The Chief Guest was Dr.
Amit Mitra, Hon’ble Finance Minister of West Bengal.
The AGM commenced with an opening Rabindra Sangeet:”Akash Bhara Surya Tara” sung by Shri Shuvadip Roy Chowdhury followed by an Audio-Visual Presentation to showcase 2015-16: The Year That Was.
The outgoing President, Mr. Ambarish Dasgupta, delivered a very telling presidential speech. Mr Dasgupta spoke his heart out especially on relevant issues with which the Chamber should be concerned and make itself an institution to be sought after by stakeholders. Having realized at the beginning of the year when he had taken charge that it would be worthwhile to understand the role and functions of the Chamber in the context of business and commerce in the State in particular as well as handling a significant advocacy role as far as the State Government was concerned, he took specific steps to ensure his intent reaches fruition.
He went on to evaluate the ecological perspectives of the Chamber, which has been an institution for almost two centuries, and led the business, social and even educational initiatives in the State and the Country. He noted that perhaps the importance of the Chamber has eroded in direct proportion to the pre-existing conditions in Bengal, and with the new and emergent social, economic and cultural scenarios, the Chamber was to map the felt need of making its presence felt, not just as “another” entity of its kind, the non-existence or closure of which would have little or no impact on the ecology, but a leader in every field and domain where it could positively impact its environment.
Towards this goal, Mr. Dasgupta devised an annual plan which he set about executing immediately, which comprised the following action points and components:
1.Individually connecting to around 25 senior officers of the Government’s Secretariat.
2.Approaching HNIs and connecting with them from the Chamber platform.
3.Approaching and connecting with Entrepreneurs, including SMEs.
4.Creating a division which would focus on paid research vis-à-vis knowledge driven activities from the Chamber platform.
5.Organizing the Chamber’s approach towards advocacy.
6.Taking on the role of a mediator bridging the gap between the Government of West Bengal and the industry.
7.Engaging in equal numbers of Seminars, Events and problem solving activities, so as to position the Chamber as the leading industry association adhering and adopting an institutionalized approach towards industrial problem solving.
Some initiatives which Mr. Dasgupta initiated included the project towards the Barge Manufacturing facility at Shalimar, the Kalyani City of Analytics [Samriddhi], adoption of 5 model villages under the Agriculture and Rural Development subcommittee, MoU with NICED on research on Hepatitis C, creation of a mobile application for putting the yellow taxis on the grid, development of an integrated cluster in Howrah (thereby organizing a hitherto unorganized sector which had immense growth potential) and bringing a world leader in consulting and knowledge realms like McKinsey, to work together with the Chamber. Many of these projects have reached fruition, going past several successful milestones, but the outgoing President felt that some needed more going to, like the North Bengal initiatives. He ended with a clearly articulated vision, where he could envisage the docking of many a ship at the new ports at Tajpur, Kulpi or Sagar (the creation of which would also see advocacy and recommendations by BCC&I), with the Bengal Chamber as the catalyst in its role as the vanguard of business and commerce in Bengal.
The Chamber, also felicitated two of its former Presidents, Mr. Aloke Mookherjea and Mr. S. Radhakrishnan for their significant contribution towards ‘The Bengal Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards’ institutionalized by The Chamber.
The Incoming President, Mr. Sutanu Ghosh, set the theme and focus for the year 2016-17 with his very engaging deliberation. Mr. Ghosh mentioned that this year, the overarching focus of the Chamber would be in fulfilling 3 distinct but interconnected roles:
• Being of use to the Business Fraternity.
• Being of use to the Government.
• Being of use to the People.
In doing so, the Chamber would like to adopt the theme, ‘Looking Back to Think Ahead’. Towards realization of this stated objective, Mr. Ghosh apprised the audience about the mega events already lined up for the month of September & October of 2016.
Strengthening The Chamber’s activities in the North Eastern part of the State through its presence in Siliguri, bolstering Chamber’s activities in the Durgapur-Asansol-Raniganj Industrial Belt and working in the North Eastern States while acting across a larger canvas to have a pan India presence, were part of his vision.
The Incoming President would like to showcase the strengths of our State through telling publications on GST, Tajpur Port with its associated facilities, Nuclear Power and Tourism, with a strong belief that the State is suitably positioned to derive tangible advantages from such interventions, or development and propagation of such sectors. He also spoke about the overarching focus of The Chamber which has been all about the continued thrust towards bringing new markets and overseas partners to work with business and industry in the State. Therefore, taking overseas delegations to Russia and The US would get top priority next year.
In the context of working for the people, Mr. Ghosh declared that this would receive very close attention from the Chamber this year. Improvement of Quality of Life through interventions at Rabindra Sarobar, enhancement of our Sonet- Lumiere at Victoria Memorial, joining hands with the Indian Museum are some of the projects outlined. Thus, programmes / projects / events / publications / advocacy in a plethora of avenues would continue unabated to bolster and reinforce the Chambers’ acknowledged position as a lead accelerator in Nation Building. His motto would thus be to, ‘Enjoy the Chamber’.
A Special Address was given by Mr. Craig Hall, Consul General, U.S Consulate Kolkata, who spoke about the growing bilateral connect in the areas of B2B exchanges.
Dr. Amit Mitra, Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge, Commerce and Industries, Finance & Excise, Industrial Reconstruction and Public Enterprises, Government of West Bengal, was the Chief Guest of The AGM 2016. Dr. Mitra, in his speech highlighted the strides Bengal had made over the past five years and his expectations from the Bengal Chamber of Commerce. He stated that Bengal is really on the move with its GDP almost doubling in the last five years. FISCAL deficit had reduced from 4.24% to 2.68%, revenue deficit had reduced from 3.75% to 1.03% and was moving towards zero with the strict fiscal discipline that is being adhered to. The State’s revenue collections from taxes had also doubled. The State had seen a 4.5 times growth in social expenditure; agriculture had seen a 7 fold growth; physical infrastructure has witnessed a quantum jump. The Government was aware that through increased capital expenditure, permanent assets are created and that boost in infrastructure multiplies employment opportunities. Capital expenditure had increased by seven times from the time the new Government came to office.
Dr. Mitra was hopeful that investors would come forward from micro, small, medium and large scale industries in sync with each other. He was hopeful that Bengal would become the cement hub of the country. There are three cement companies here. Four major cement companies have come afresh.
Expressing his happiness at being present at The Bengal Chamber’s Annual General Meeting, Dr. Mitra stated that the State’s Chief Minister was at Singur since morning handing over land rights to farmers consequent to the historic Supreme Court ruling. He stated that the State was committed on the one hand to social and economic rights of the common people and on the other hand committed to the State’s economic growth through increased economic activities, thus drawing a perfect all round balanced growth model. Dr. Mitra also spoke about the successful business delegation that the State’s Chief Minister had led to Germany and about the investment prospects arising out of the visit.
Dr. Amit Mitra’s concluded his speech by clearly spelling out his expectations from The Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He desired that the:
• Chamber adopts an ITI and Polytechnic so that there is 100% placement.
• Chamber urgently looks for investors for the City of Analytics as land had already been made available.
• Chamber focuses on Food Processing and Animal Husbandry.
• Chamber also gives a push to textiles and garments.
• Chamber creates a GST Cell for Corporates. The Cell should handhold Corporates for GST operationalization.
Ms. Rita Bhimani, Chairperson, Ritam Communications and Hon. Member, BCC&I, was the Master of Ceremonies.
Subsequently, the names of the new office bearers and members of the Managing Committee was announced in the Business Session, with the President being Mr. Sutanu Ghosh; President Designate, Mr. Chandra Shekhar Ghosh; Senior Vice President, Mr. Indrajit Sen and Vice President, Mr. B B Chatterjee. The first Managing Committee meeting was held immediately after the Business Session.
The Evening Annual Reception and Cocktails commenced with a piano recital by Ms. Jennifer Heemstra, which kept the guests and the audience captivated throughout.