By Anil Agarwal
Chanakya said about 2300 years ago, “In the absence of fruitful economic activity, both current prosperity and future growth are in danger of destruction”.
India is the world’s 3rd largest economy. But in some sectors an uncertainty prevails towards large national projects. We have an ever rising import bill of about USD 500 billion and losing opportunities to explore, produce and utilize our substantial natural resources.
The following is proposed for consideration of the new government:
Auction Natural Resources on Revenue Sharing/Royalty Basis
India’s falling GDP is primarily a function of manufacturing slowdown including mining and of hydrocarbons. Though India has abundance of reserves and resources of bauxite, coal, iron ore, copper and gold etc., it is spending billions of dollars on their imports. Hundreds and thousands of large, medium and small scale industries can be set-up across the nation to process our raw material and further manufacturing, which can create 10-15 crores jobs, infrastructure and lead to eradication of poverty from its roots.
Energy security is a key priority for the country. We are sitting on large resource base of oil & gas and what we need is another 20 large companies to enter this sector to unlock its true potential. The concentration of supply of coal through single company is hampering power generation, depriving India of its energy security.
Auction natural resources in the most sustainable and transparent manner, on revenue sharing basis or highest royalty. Encourage Indian entrepreneurs who will bring world-class technology, build modern plants and big investments in our country, ensuring highest standards of environment, health and safety.
Unleash the Hidden Potential of PSUs by divesting 51% stake in Public
In most democratic countries government does not run businesses. In India the public sector companies can grow 10 times bigger if we divest at least 51% of their stake in public at large. Divestment should be such that no institution or individual can hold more than 10% of the equity. Employees to have guarantee of their jobs and stock options to participate in the upside of the company’s performance. We can find many successful examples like Larsen & Toubro, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and ITC, which are not owner driven but CEO driven companies.
ONGC can become another Exxon, and SAIL can become another Vale.
Formation of Ministry of Natural Resource Development
As a suggestion, to strengthen the country’s economy form a single large ministry to deal with development of all natural resources, bring oil & gas, mines, coal and steel under single umbrella and under a strong visionary leader. This new Ministry of Natural Resource would look into the optimum development of natural resources.
End Discrimination between Public and Private Sector
It does the nation little good to discriminate between public and private sectors companies. In recent incidents ONGC has been allowed to explore shale gas while the private sector companies are awaiting approvals. Despite the iron ore mining ban in Goa and Karnataka (now lifted), NMDC has been continuing mining of iron ore. Similarly, Power Grid Corporation of India is reaping the benefits of being a public sector firm in the transmission business while private players are struggling. Nalco is exporting alumina at much lower rate than being offered by domestic companies. Discrimination only hurts business sentiments and sends a wrong signal.
Reinforce focus on Women and Child Development
2/3rd of our population is of children and women and it is important to address their needs towards development – education, nutrition and health, being key priority areas.
Rural women in particular have immense potential to adopt and develop liberal arts and make it a regular source of livelihood. As our women become literate they will through self-help become socially and economically empowered. For the dignity of our rural women, it is also important to construct house-hold toilets in each rural house.
India has the largest number of children in the world, with 160 million children of less than six years of age. Around 50% of these children are malnourished. The 14 lakh government-run Anganwadis need a complete transformation. Infrastructure, education, water and sanitation facilities, sufficient nutrition, and regular health check-ups are need of the hour for these children. Women and Child Development should be a single Ministry with a strong visionary leader/ Minister. Bring in public-private-partnership (PPP) and build a time-frame agenda.
The country needs a simpler regulatory framework, based on transparent policies and processes with emphasis on self-declaration and strong deterrents and penalties for non compliances.
India is well positioned to become a powerhouse and over a period of time the above measures can generate additional revenue of USD 1 trillion for the economy.
People have high hopes from the new government and so has the industry.
(Anil Agarwal, Executive Chairman – Vedanta Group)