German advice: Open up

Sambit Saha and Pratim D. Gupta

Calcutta, Dec. 11: The Trinamul Congress should reconsider its opposition to retail FDI to send a positive signal to investors and spruce up the perception about Bengal, German ambassador Michael Steiner has suggested in an interview with The Telegraph.

On his maiden visit to Calcutta after taking over the present assignment in March, the ambassador also suggested that the hands-off land policy could force industry to set up manufacturing bases outside Bengal.

"I understand that every chief minister… parties decide for themselves. I will not comment on the position taken. But it is simple. You need to be open to the outside. If you want to go on a growth path, you need to be open," said Steiner, who served as a foreign policy and security adviser to the former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

The ambassador, who met chief minister Mamata Banerjee and governor M.K. Narayannan, also touched upon land.

"I know land is more difficult to provide in a state like Bengal. But you need land for a production site. You need to do it somewhere. You can not have it in the sky. Or you will go to some other places, other state or country. So if you want production site here, land facility must be there. There must be uncomplicated relationship with the bureaucracy for licences," Steiner said.

He urged the chief minister to improve the perception of Bengal in the outside world.

"The chief minister (of Bengal) is going on 17th to New Delhi to meet India Incorporated. That's good to do but you need to do more. You need to attract foreign investment…. In the past, you could sit there, and they would come. Gone! You have to convince these guys. I have seen several times in Germany how responsible leaders go the extra mile to convince people," he said.

Interview in Metro