NITN | @notintownlive | 13 Sep 2017
Addressing the 163rd AGM of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Past President Sutanu Ghosh said, "The Indian economy was smooth sailing in FY 2016, undergoing power transfers and changes in the wake of the general elections when its ride was brought to a tumultuous halt by demonetization, the effects of which were far reaching.
Although it caused widespread cash crunch due to the inadequacy of liquid cash in circulation over the medium term, demonetization was aimed towards enabling greater formalization. The advent of demonetization brought waves in every sector of the country, be it industry, agriculture or banks.
India’s GDP grew by about 7.1% in the past year and 5.7% in the first quarter of 2017-2018. Several new MoUs have been approved of in order to foster better relationships and business between India and other countries. Although the purchasing manager’s index (PMI) fell to 49.6 in December 2016, it rose back up in August 2017 to 51.2. The Sensex quickly shot up by 1.95% and the Nifty rose by 3% against the losses registered in the previous year, with some help from the market stabilization scheme.
The fluctuation caused by demonetization cooled down by the 1st quarter of FY 2017 and the spotlight gravitated into speculations and expectations surrounding the introduction of the GST bill.
One of the first visible impacts of the GST was the abolishing of checkpoints which stands to save India anywhere between Rs. 900 crore to Rs. 2300 crore per year in transportation. The relatively smooth roll-out of the GST lends validation to the observation that India’s macroeconomic foundations are being gradually and successfully transformed.
However, the recently released second volume of Economic Survey by Ministry of Finance reveals that the economy is exhibiting distinct signs of deceleration in real economic activity. The survey has also retained its earlier prediction of an overall growth rate between 6.75 and 7.5 % for FY 17-18. Direct Tax collections for FY 2017-2018, upto July 2017, have reported 19.1% growth. The repo rate was reduced by 25 basis points to 6.0% in August 2017, while the reverse repo rate was brought down to 5.75% in order to promote a moderate rate of inflation and stable growth rate.
A positive trend is emerging in the country’s trade scenario with the exports growing by 3.94% y-o-y (in Dollar terms) as of July 2017. With the current CPI-based inflation being well below RBI’s medium term target of 4%, the Economic Survey augurs the much awaited structural reforms and formalization of the Indian economy."
Talking of the economy in West Bengal, Sutanu Ghosh said, "Concurrently in West Bengal, after the ruling party was reinstated to power during the 2016 General Elections, the adept execution of policies and the new budget enabled the steady growth of the State economy. The state with a gross state domestic product (GSDP) of US$ 140.56 billion in 2016-2017 and growing at 15.64% GVA, is leading the charge along the growth curve of India. The state is a perfect blend of economic strength and dynamism, with a strong consumer base, industry, large talent pool, industry friendly stable policies, transparent governance and record social and physical infrastructure development.
The industrial sector seems to be advancing owing to the proposed allocation of US$ 7541.242 million for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and Textiles Department during 2016-17. The manufacturing sector was also a beneficiary as it procured investments worth US$ 9.19 billion, during the Bengal Global Business Summit 2017.
The announcement of the demonetization drive brought along an air of uncertainty for the State’s affairs. Even though the harvests suffered because of the cash crunch, relief was provided to farmers by the Chief Minister’s announcement of complete waiver of agricultural tax. The slump in the tourism sector was countered by the launch of new policies and the ‘Experience Bengal’ mobile app.
The dawn of 2017 brought in investments worth US$ 6.93 billion for various urban development projects along with allocation of US$ 30.02 million for the evolution of the IT & Electronics department of the State. With the well anticipated entry of Infosys into the State, other IT majors are expected to follow suit, adding to the prosperity of the sector.
West Bengal was awarded first place by the United Nations for Public Service for its “Kanyashree” scheme which is a targeted conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at retaining girls in schools and is implemented through 16000 schools and institutes. Having the highest percentage of enrolment in GST among all States at the early stage, West Bengal is making relentless endeavours to foster better industry – customer relationships in order to achieve greater prosperity and growth."
Sutanu Ghosh also pointed out that in the past year, the Chamber organised several mega events, including working with the state government, largely towards enabling a healthy pro-business environment in the state.
"The areas your Chamber has effectively engaged in with the Government include Agriculture and Rural Development, Environment and Sustainability, Manufacturing, Infrastructure, Information Technology, Tourism to name a few," he said.
C S Ghosh, President Designate, The Bengal Chamber, said, "The Bengal Chamber’s constant effort is to bring the stakeholders together and create relevant forums for the members and the industry at large to discuss relevant contemporary issues as well as issues of concern."
"This year," said Ghosh, "we have made sincere efforts to create an array of activities all designed to address issues concerning the economic progress of our state and the nation."
This year, the Bengal Chamber’s one of the main focus areas will be Finance and Banking, said Ghosh. The objective is to address the critical issues of the nation’s financial sector through the chamber’s various forums.
He also announced that for Bengal Chamber this year will be the 'Year of Going Beyond the Boundaries'.
"Even though it is the oldest chamber in the country, we typically hold all our functions in Kolkata," said Ghosh. "This year we will go beyond East and hold seminars and round table discussions on critical, contemporary issues in the financial sector in Mumbai and Delhi."
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