Wooing investors towards IT sector in West Bengal
The West Bengal government’s effort to attract information technology (IT) companies might be moving in right direction from the perspective of improving ease of doing business, which is critical to West Bengal making it an ideal ecosystem of investment. The state government is all set to ensure that the ‘industry-friendly’ policies percolate down the government hierarchy right till the district-level.
The government is offering a maximum of 50 percent property tax waiver for 12 years and a higher floor to area ratio (FAR) for companies in the segment to either expand or commence operations while maintaining its stand of not granting Special Economic Zone status.
A state like West Bengal definitely needs to provide special status to IT Firms to draw in investment and generate employment, while benefits under state levies — stamp duty, property tax, sales tax, entry tax — are possible, customs duty, excise duty, service tax and income tax.
The state has envisioned in its ICT policy to become one of the top three States in India by turnover and employment, both in the IT/ ITeS and ESDM sectors by 2020 and also create an investor-friendly climate in the State for increasing West Bengal’s share in production of electronic goods in India to 15 percent by 2020 in value terms. It has an actionable mission to create a robust IT eco-system for enhancing competitiveness and productivity of the key economic sectors affecting the lives of the majority of the population of the State and to provide seamless and reliable citizen-centric services and information for the public, thereby enhancing efficiency, transparency and accountability in Government.
A well-planned and effective strategy is required to encourage additional investments from large IT companies, to revitalize and tap the talent of home-grown entrepreneurs in the small and medium sector and to enable the spread of the industry to Tier II and Tier III locations.
Ultimately, there is a necessity to move up the value-chain from merely providing services, to the development of products and registering Intellectual Property Rights. West Bengal being the second most densely populated State, with pressure on its scarce land resource, the IT and ITeS industry provides the high employment potential per unit of land utilized and deserves to be promoted on a priority basis vis-a vis other industries.
So, West Bengal could be an ideal destination for investors as it has huge market potential of low cost better quality items to replace imported products, significant product demand within the East & North East India and also at neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, & Nepal, huge supply of qualified skilled man power, large work-force of semi-skilled labour in the region, excellent supporting infrastructure for setup, proactive Government Incentive policy and commitment of Government to extend all support to make this happen.