Economy Might Experience a Slump, But Will Recover: Vedanta Chief

Vedanta Founder and Chairperson speaks about the economic health of his group, the Indian economy and more.

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Video Producer: Kanishk Dangi, Anubhav Mishra
Video Editor: Vivek Gupta

In recent months, all discussion has begun to revolve around two topics: One, that India is uniquely positioned to take advantage of big opportunities; the other, distress over an economic slowdown. So what is the actual condition of India's economy and where is it headed? The Quint spoke to Vedanta Resources’ Founder and Chairman Anil Agarwal to get an idea. Here are some excepts from the interview.

How is the economic health of your group? What is the status of its profits, revenue, tax, I-T and cash liquidity?

This year, we are about to achieve a turnover of 16 billion dollars. We will be making a profit of at least five-and-a-half billion dollars. We are currently under a debt of 11.25 billion dollars. In two years, we can increase our revenue from 25 to 30 billion dollars. Our debt will also be in the same range.

Given the situation of your balance sheet, would you like to invest in India or abroad? Would you focus on India more?

India will always remain in our focus. We are an Indian company. Many major companies, who have only 10 percent of their business in India, still call themselves Indian companies. We are proud to be Indian.

What about the economic health of India?

India is a huge country. Almost 2 billion people reside in the Indian subcontinent. This country has human resources. It has a lot of talent. It is blessed by gods. The economy might experience a slump but it will recover in time. The ups and downs keep happening in the economy. India has taken the lead in technological world. Indians are heading many tech giants across the world. On top of that, we have a strong leadership and positive mind. This will take us ahead.

India needs rapid growth. We need to grow at 8-10 percent to match our needs. How will the government achieve it?

The entire world wants to treat us like a dumping ground. We import oil, gold, coal and copper. We import 85 percent of our oil requirement. We import almost 100 percent of our gold requirement. We import a lot of coal. Today, our imports are close to 400 billion dollars. This might increase to as high as one trillion dollars.

We are dependent on imports a lot. We will need to make some quick measures to change the course. What are your views on it?

Actually, we need to help those who are trying to find natural resources. We need to respect them and encourage them. What we do right now is we purchase natural resources from them and start auctioning those resources. We need to come up with a revenue sharing formula in mining sector. We need to provide 25 percent share to those who find the natural resources. Forest clearances need to speed up. We need to allow self-certification. Right now, it takes two years to get clearance. It should not take more than 60 days. We need to implement this new system. You can impose heavy penalties if someone is found in violation of those clearances.

In today’s time, it feels as if the government doesn’t trust the businessmen.

The government has to show faith in businessmen. There is no alternative to it. Governments run businesses in socialist countries. In a democracy, businessmen run businesses. It is not the government’s job to run an industry. The role of a regulator is to make sure that there is a suitable environment for an industry to grow. Instead of focusing on how a business is run, the government should focus on developing infrastructure for the business.

When will public sector companies get a free hand?

I think the government has understood this issue. There motto is ‘minimum government, maximum governance.’ Everyone is ready to get the job done. The bureaucracy has shown enthusiasm. Things were not like this earlier.

But why is there a lack of trust between government and businessmen?

The entire world works on trust. A few people in India have diverted their money by fraudulent methods. But the government has to express trust in the businessmen. They need to stop interfering in the businesses. Our prime minister says that it’s not government’s job to do business.

Across the world, almost 50 percent capital is lying idle. All of it is ready to be invested in India. All we need is to create a path for it. We have both talent and technology. Empower the corporate sector, strengthen the banks, like China has. This will provide you capital to fulfill big projects.

(The video was originally published on Quint Hindi and has been translated.)

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