Indian Chamber of Commerce, Calcutta
President’s Address at 80th AGM
Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal, Shri Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
We are grateful to you for your kind presence.
ICC is indepted to you for the continuing support you have given to us throughout the year.
The new optimism seen today in the state of West Bengal is a result of your untiring efforts and vision.
A recent survey made by ICC rated you as the best Chief Minister in the country. We are really fortunate to have a Chief Minister like you.
During the year we have also pointed out various areas where Govt. needs to focus and improve delivery systems.
We trust ICC would continue to have your guidance and advice.
World economy currently in the midst of an inflationary commodity- price spiral and a deflationary financial one.
Today, real price is higher than since the beginning of the previous century.
The major cause is the sharply rising oil prices, as also very high food prices.
The Indian economy is expected to grow in 2008-09 at a rate below the average growth of 8.75% in the last 4 years.
Inflation raced to a 13-year high of 11.05%, thus intensifying pressure on Government and RBI to take more steps to arrest prices.
Though growth prospects be somewhat under pressure, Chamber believes that prudent monetary and fiscal prices will bring back the growth momentum.
Review of Last Year
Central theme for the year was ‘Unleashing Global India: Pursuing Development and Growth with Equity’ towards this ICC emphasized on activities in several sectors like -
Steel & Mining
Food & Agriculture
Oil & Gas
Human Resource Development etc.
Membership services were strengthened this year and new services like ICC Tax Clinic were initiated to extend free service to members and others regarding their problems on Direct and Indirect taxes.
Large Summits were organized in each of these sectors in Kolkata, New Delhi and Bangkok, which were participated by large delegations of government officials, industry, international experts and the media.
Special emphasis was put on the Food and Food Processing sector - the India International Potato Expo 2008 was a roaring success following which the Chief Minister released a Special Day Cover.
Key Interactions on Policy
In a pro-active role ICC interacted with various government authorities in the wake of policy formulation.
Suggestions on physical policy were given to the Revenue Secretary at New Delhi before formation of the Central Budget.
Similarly suggestions on the State Budget were discussed with Dr Asim Dasgupta Finance Minister of West Bengal.
A Report on Iron Ore Exports was prepared and handed over to Mr Ram Vilas Paswan.
Discussions were held with the Union Steel Secretary, the CMD, Coal India, the Executive Director, RBI and the Information Minister, Shri P R Dasmunshi in their respective areas.
A 2-Day Workshop on Foreign Trade Policy and Procedures was organized by ICC.
A Conference on Agri Exports from Eastern Region made some recommendations to government on Food Safety Management.
ICC also prepared a report on Rain Water Harvesting.
Other reports like West Bengal Business climate Survey, Single Window Scheme and IT & IteS Industry etc.
Relations with State Government
ICC continued and developed on its relationship building with several State Governments such as –
ICC continued with its special initiative for North East development
Three North East Business Summits were organized earlier by ICC.
This year, along with the Ministry of DoNER and Ministry of Commerce, ICC organized the North East Trade & Investment Opportunities Week in Bangkok, where 200 members including 5 Chief Ministers from North East States and several Cabinet Ministers and a large High Delegation attended.
Together with the Asian Development Bank the ICC organized meeting at New Delhi on ADB Projects in the North East.
To bring the Chamber closer to members, ICC tied up some programmes in district centers like Siliguri, Haldia and Durgapur.
A session on Credit Rating for Small & Medium Enterprises was organized in Guwahati.
ICC organized several interactions with visiting foreign delegations as well as led delegations to foreign countries.
Interactive Session was held at ICC with the High Profile Railway Delegation from UK.
An EU India Economic Partnership session was organized where the Ambassador of European Commission to India spoke on Challenges and Prospects of Economic Partnership between EU and India
India-Canada ties on Environment Management were discussed with Mr David Malone, High Commissioner for Canada.
A Catalogue Exhibition was held at the Chamber on Doing Business in Taiwan.
Mr Mark Ginsberg, Member, Board of Directors, US Department of Energy discussed Clean Energy Benefits with Chamber members.
A Thai Delegation visited North Eastern States under the aegis of the ICC.
Delegations were organized by the Chamber to countries like Australia, Thailand, Bulgaria, Taiwan and Singapore.
ICC is working on a project with partners from Germany, Italy, Belgium, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
India-Japan Trade & Investment Agreement – Workshop organized to bring together State Governments, Civil Society, Industry, Farmers and policy makers involved in this field from North East State.
Environment sector is one of the strong initiatives taken by ICC.
ICC-EMC organized the first-ever Environment Partnership Summit 2008 in collaboration with the WBPCB and Government of West Bengal. The Summit aimed at Establishing Greener Road Map for Global Business to facilitate synchronization between industrial growth and sustainable development.
An Exhibition was also organized along with the technical session of the Summit.
An Workshop on Rainwater Harvesting and Water Treatment Technologies was organized by ICC to guide stakeholders to integrated water resources management.
An Interaction with GTZ-Proklima on alternative technologies to phase out ozone depleting substances was held in collaboration with German Ministry of Economic Cooperation.
Plastics and Sustainability Forum was organized in collaboration with the PIS, Jadavpur University and the Department of Environment, Government of West Bengal.
Sixth Environment Excellence Award was conducted by the ICC along with the PCB and the Government of West Bengal.
Recognition for ICC by US Government – ICC was presented with a prestigious award by the US Government in recognition of outstanding leadership in creating awareness about environmental concerns.
The Young Leaders Forum presented the Young Achievers Award to Mr Saurav Ganguly.
The Better Calcutta Contest among the school children was conducted by the ICC Calcutta Foundation.
The Ladies Study Group (LSG) of ICC organized a programme with Shri Namannji and Ms Manisha Kairala on How to Transfer Divine Cosmic Energy from the Universe to the Human Mind.
The LSG also organized a programme on Brest Cancer to generate awareness levels above the disease.
The LSG award was presented to Navanir – A Home for the Aged which was doing good work for caring of senior citizens.
Monthly Economic Review – A monthly newsletter is being published by ICC with detailed information about Indian and Global Economy with specific focus in the Eastern and North-eastern states.
Backgroud notes have been published on India-Energy Summit, Oil & Gas Summit and Electricity East.
Proceedings of all the Summits held have also been published by the Chamber.
Last but not least, ICC has started a representative office in New Delhi to make its presence felt at the national level. At the end I would like to thank all ICC members, Past Presidents, West Bengal Govt., media friends, all our partners for their support during the year. Thank you.