‘Metal prices may rise 15%’

Anil Agarwal, chairman of Vedanta group, which has interests in metals, mining and energy production in India, is all praise for the government's demonetization initiative. He likens it to being vaccination, which gives a bit of pain but gives benefits. In an interview, Agarwal spoke about a range of issues from demonetization to GST, budget expectations, commodity price movements, outlook and his companies.

How has demonetization impacted your businesses?

This is a very bold move. We have tried to simplify a lot, like we arranged for the meals of truckers whom we had to make payment to. There are two things, demonetization and the GST, which will change this country. You know this is a vaccine; when you are given a vaccination, you have a bit of pain and you do not get fever and cold.

What according to you will be tax-related announcements in the Budget?

The government is very pragmatic and I am very hopeful that they will bring in a way in the Budget that will see the common people facing less harassment, there will be many more new industries in the country, and the environment for investments will improve. I request all the people to have some patience and be positive, the entire world is watching us. If we go ahead with positivity, I feel 2017 will be very good.

Do you think that by reducing tax rates, compliance and tax collection will increase?

Definitely, because of demonetization, everyone will come into the system, and the tax net will increase. People want to pay tax but they do not want any hassles. If there is a country which has the smallest tax base it is India. If this does happen, then definitely, the tax rate will decrease.

The government has taken many initiatives to make the taxation process easy. What are the areas that the government should work on regarding taxation?

See, complaints are always there. And with taxation every person in India has some complaint or the other. And the government has studied this very well, and in the days to come it should get simplified with the use of technology. I have been living in England and I pay the full tax there and do not face any inconvenience because of the system there. In the days to come, I feel there will be the same system in India, systems will be simplified and the complaints that people have about income tax would be addressed.

How will GST benefit the industry?

Taxation will be simplified completely. And the biggest thing is it will start moving fast. Power companies are fully prepared. We have called in the best consultants from around the world and are fully prepared for GST. When GST is rolled out, we will be absolutely ready.

How optimistic are you with regards to the energy sector in India?

It was not a priority in India before, and this priority has come in tremendously after this government has come into power. Today, we are producing oil for $6 in India and we are importing at $60. It is such a proud thing that we can produce our own oil. I am working on this and I guarantee that we will produce 50% of oil in India.

What improvements do you see in metals?

Prices in copper, aluminium, zinc, iron ore, oil & gas have recovered very well. There is no new production in any other part of the world. In my opinion, the prices will go up by 10-15%, but I do not think that they will decrease. Price is very less in aluminium, you will not believe that 50% consumption of aluminium in India is being imported, and it is being imported because China is dumping, and people are dumping from all four sides, like steel. I am requesting the government to levy safeguard duty on aluminium so that the industry can be saved and it can grow further.

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