An Imperialist Agent in Pro-people Garb

Globalization and ‘Left’ Front Government — A Fact-sheet



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Incentives for business

The Central government seems to have set the trend for the economic policy of India. It is very natural that any true representative of the Indian ruling class, who are completely dependent on imperialism, will succumb to the imperialists’ dictum! But what about the state governments like West Bengal! Once, the main bone of contention of the government of West Bengal was the step-motherly attitude of the central government. In a classical inversion of Marxism they tried to pose the West Bengal government as a transitory revolutionary government. Hence all sorts of step-motherly attitude of the central government was put forward to dupe the people as if they were on the war-path for developing a self-reliant economy smashing feudalism and imperialist exploitation in stages. In real terms they want to be in power and as such have a share in the exploitation! This opinion is further reinforced when the West Bengal state secretary of the CPI(M) praised the new economic policy. The liberalisation policy was upheld because it scrapped the previous licensing policy and made scope for business to profit in West Bengal. But for whom? Is it the big bourgeoisie or the broad masses that were to benefit from the same? No, the big business houses have benefited from the policy. It is their demand! The West Bengal government, by explicitly supporting the liberalisation policy is, in real terms voicing the big business houses’ demand. Oh, what excellent peaceful co-existence! Most probably their [CPI(M)’s] guru, even Khruschev would be ashamed of such naked advocacy for the industrialists. Nowadays the imperialists and their agencies like world Economic forum, — a conclave of the most evil on this earth, comprising top business, top politicians and top bureaucrats from the major countries of the world — are organising Global Investors’ Meet in various states. Likewise, the World Bank is also directly penetrating in the state government’s economy under the concerned state government’s invitation. Thus it is not a fact that the state government remains a mere spectator. The government of West Bengal has in fact announced a host of incentives to lure big business and imperialist capital.

A West Bengal business promotion delegation led by Somnath chatterjee, CPI(M) MP and Chairman, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, visited Washington DC on July 4-7, 1999. It included a contingent of business persons to attract foreign direct investment in the state. The delegation had meetings in the United States — at the India Business Council (USIBC), International Finance Corporation, US Small Business Administration and IBM institutes of Electronic government. At the luncheon Meeting organised by the USIBC, Somnath Chatterjee highlighted the changing investment climate of West Bengal and invited US companies to invest in the state. Mr. Chatterjee referred to McKinsey, a US managerial consultancy firm at the service of MNCs, to justify his claims. The said notorious firm reciprocated by stating that "Its (West Bengal) markets are large and growing, its resources base is rich and the level of rivalry in its markets is low. In addition, it has recently adopted a pro-investor orientation." Thus ICC and McKinsey seemed to be one regarding the unique selling point of West Bengal; viz. low salary and wage and disciplined trade unions. These are sure to salivate business houses and the imperialists. Of course there is Mr Ashim Dasgupta to offer a range of incentives on behalf of the West Bengal govt. to lure the investors with high profits.

Mr Ashim Dasgupta, West Bengal finance minister, in his budget speech 2001-02, para 3.17 elaborated the West Bengal Incentive scheme 2000. In that scheme there are provisions for a capital investment subsidy scheme (15% to 25% depending on area and subject to a limit), interest subsidy (50% interest for 5 to 7 years depending on the area and subject to a limit), employment generation subsidy, waiver of electric duty (upto 5 years) and remission of stamp duty and registration fee (50%) are included. In addition, for important industrial activities, as per the requirements of the business houses and multinational corporations, additional subsidies in the form of extra 10% interest subsidy for two years and full exemption of stamp duty and registration fees are declared in the sectors relating to information technology, electronics, agro and food processing, Haldia Petro-chemicals downstream projects, biotechnology, jute diversification, agricultural implements, tourism etc. Moreover, any industrial unit with investment of more than Rs. 25 crore will get the special benefits of a mega-project. It is to encourage private initiative to set up industrial complexes/centres with infrastructural facilities. Remission of 50% stamp duty and registration fees is proposed for first sale in relation to such complexes/centres. In addition the West Bengal finance minister in his 2001-02 speech, para 3.21 expressed the need to set up a ‘Land Bank’ to alleviate the problem of availability of land for industrial units.

There are also other recipes to attract investment. The government of India adopted other measures as the ‘Fund-Bank’ dictum. The Govt. of India web page described that Free trade zones/Export processing Zones (EPZs) have emerged as an effective instrument to boost export of manufactured products. the zones set up as enclaves, separated from the Domestic Tariff area by physical barriers, are intended to provide an internationally competitive duty-free environment for export production at low cost. The basic objectives of the EPZs are "to enhance foreign exchange earnings, develop export-oriented industries and to generate employment opportunities."

The said web page further stated that the EPZs "provides a host of basic industrial facilities — developed land, standard design factory buildings, built-up sheds, roads, power supply, drainage, in addition to a whole range of fiscal incentives by way of customs, excise and income tax exemptions".

In spite of the much anti-imperialist jargon, the CPI(M)-led West Bengal government set up Falta Special Economic zone, which has also followed the same directives and proposed a concession of 30%, 25% and 20% in lease rent concession consecutively for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year of agreement. The West Bengal State Electricity Board assures uninterrupted power supply for industries to be set up in the zone through its 132 kv service station within the zone itself. Power tariff is rupees 1.55 p to 3.72 per unit (basic rate for different categories of consumers) though in addition there is fuel surcharges, there is however a waiver of 20 percent to 40 percent on the basic electricity charges, granted for new industrial units or industries undertaking consumption over 50 hp. Units are also allotted initial captive electricity, with permission from the WBSEB, and obtain fuel with duty deferment (exemption). There is an independent electronic telephone exchange installed inside the zone integrated into the Kolkata system.

Operation and maintenance of the water supply system has been leased to M/s Corrogannon India and is being supplied from deep tube-wells through a well-knit distribution system within the zone (Rs. 4.00 per kg).

the office of the Development Commissioner serves as the one window office for all the units in the zone including customs, security and the office of the labour commissioner of the government of West Bengal situated within the zonal West Bengal state electricity board.

The Special Economic Zone and the Kulpi Port Project are twin projects being shown as a great success story by the government of West Bengal!

let us cite another example of its grand success of following imperialist directives. The CPI(M)-led ‘left’ front govt. even surpasses the record of the Gujarat govt. led by N. Modi! It has settled to transfer ownership rights of 4 thousand 400 acres land of the Kulpi area to the Bengal Port Organisation (a joint conglomeration of Mukunda Keventer and P&D ports) without imposing any condition.4 The Mukunda and Keventer jointly own 89% of the project while the West Bengal industrial development corporation retain the remaining 11%. P & O pretends to be ‘undecided’ as pressure tactics. The government has assured to hand over the entire income from the project to shareholders and it will not retain a single paise. In fact even the fascist Gujrat govt leased out merely the land, only for thirty years,5 but the Bengal government has transferred ownership rights.

Most probably there is no such example of transferring ownership rights of such a huge area unconditionally to a private business house. The CPI(M)-led govt may claim this as an unprecedented example.

The Fact Sheet of the Falta Special Economic zone was published with much fanfare in the Zones web page fepz.com/glance.html:

1. Total approval granted since inception


2. Units in operation


3. Units under implementation


4. Yet to implement


5. Cancelled


6. Debonded


7. Closed/Inactive


8. Total valid proposals


9. Investment by Govt. of India

 Rs. 45.67(cumulative)

10. Revenue Expenditure

 Rs. 01.37 crores(FY-2003)

11. Revenue Earned

 Rs. 0.75 croces (FY-2003)

12. Investment by


 Units - Rs. 254.37 crores

NRI - Rs. 4.93 crores

Foreign - Rs. 10.48 crores

13. Employment



 Managerial - 121

 Supervisory - 228

 Other - 2404

 Total - 2753

Though the above statistics cuts a sorry figure, the govt. of West Bengal is desperate to have a share of 9% of India’s total income from exports. It is for this reason they are putting forward one after another plans for Special Economic Zones. Apart from Falta, another special economic zone has come up in a 5 acre area of Salt Lake. In the month of August, the central government has sanctioned the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), ‘Manikanchan’, in the said area for the ornament industry, the first of its kind in India.

80% area of the ‘Manikanchan’ project is sold out. It is going to be lucrative business for the giants in this industry. Business magnets from Italy and other imperialist states seem to have benefited from the project. The markets of Europe, America, Japan will get quality products at throw away prices. the assurances for development of local businessmen and artisans are all a hoax. The basic criteria of SEZs, is that they guarantee full profit for business and any dissent of artisans, regarding wages or salary, will be dealt with an iron hand. The numerous small gold ornament shops that have developed expertise in this art for generations are sure to be ruined by this government offensive of EPZs. A relief indeed for which the government of West Bengal can boast of! Even then chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, the most eloquent ‘anti-imperialist’, does not feel ashamed to state, "Even if any of them (imperialist capital/MNCs) come and claim that they will not abide by labour laws, it is not possible for us to accept. We are here, and there are pro-labour laws, until now no one has proposed this type of proposals. We are aware that, in our country a concept of Special Economic Zone is emerging. A law is going to be enacted in Delhi. I have heard that such dangers are creeping in that law."5 This is one glaring examples of his anti-imperialist phrase mongering!

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