Trinamool Congress (TMC) will support the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill if the state government's interests are protected, says West Bengal's Finance Minister Amit Mitra. He says TMC's manifesto had proposed a single tax system reflecting the government's support for GST back in 2009.
The minister also says JSW's failure to set up a steel plant in West Bengal (WB) is not a setback for the government and is hopeful that the plant will be ready within a year.
A week before West Bengal's second Global Investor Summit kicks-off, Mitra tell's CNBC-TV18's Ritu Singh that investors who are witnessing the progressive changes in West Bengal are rushing to the state and it may well be on its way to becoming India's next major cement hub with companies like Emami, Dalmia Cements, JSW investing in cement plants in WB.
Below is the verbatim transcript of Amit Mitra’s interview with Ritu Singh on CNBC-TV18.
Q: How is cement industry faring in the state of West Bengal?
A: There has been a history of the Left Front government for 34 years. So, that is like a hangover around you. They are not aware because of the past that when we came to office the previous year's 78 lakh man-days were lost, this is what they know. However, in year before last 5,020 man-days were lost and last year official record zero man-days were lost due to strikes. That changed, those who are aware of are rushing to Bengal. Three big cement players Puneet Dalmia, Sajjan Jindal and Emamis are investing in cement making it a major cement production hub in the country.
Q: Take for instance JSW Steel that you mentioned earlier, they had plans to set-up a Rs 35,000 crore investment into steel plant which got stalled, sure they are making investments in the cement plant now for Rs 700 crore odd but the fact that steel plant could not also take off is that some sort of a set back to the West Bengal government?
A: I don’t think so; I personally think steel plant will come up. Why? Slowly realisation has daunt on policy makers. We are now coal as well as iron ore are becoming on stream more transparently. So, they are ready to go. Now by the way they have spent at least Rs 500-600 crore on social infrastructure. All this they have done what for? They know that this steel plant will happen. While that is happening they are so anxious to take advantage of the growing environment of the state they are putting in a cement plant.
Q: So by when is this steel plant likely to come up?
A: I would say, as soon as the coal auctions are completed as soon as the iron ore issue is sorted out, I am sure within a year if this is sorted out the work will start. Steel plant takes a bit of time.
Q: Another important topic right now is the goods and services tax (GST) which was not passed in the winter session we saw. You had differences in the draft earlier but know I believe those have been resolved are you hopeful of that at least being passed by the Budget session?
A: Our position is very simple. GST is something which we will support in principle and in practice provided the states interests are protected and federalism as a whole gets strengthen.