Home > Business > Special
PM-FM are like Gavaskar-Tendulkar in one team, says Ambani
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai |
June 03, 2004
Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani feels that the new United Progressive Alliance government is reforms-friendly.
"Of course, the government is reforms-friendly. My view is that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram are like (Sunil) Gavaskar and (Sachin) Tendulkar in one cricket team. What better team you can get?" said Ambani after a meeting with the finance minister in Mumbai on Thursday.
Ambani said that "the finance minister wanted to put all our fears to rest about India's continued commitment to economic reforms."
"India is undoubtedly on a strong economic growth path. There is continuity and we need to understand that as an industry, and we must collectively communicate to the markets and the world as a whole that India is continuing with the momentum of growth. We will make sure from private, public and multinational sector to re-impose growth in the economy," Ambani said quoting the finance minister.
"The finance minister reminded us that he had held the same portfolio in the Left Front government in 1996-98 and reforms were really deepened then. And, of course, Manmohan Singh is the architect of reforms. So, I think it was a meeting that reassured everybody that we are on the right path," said the Reliance chief.
"Over the next few months, I am very sure that we will see sustained economic growth. That is important for all of us. There will be visibility in terms of all policies in all fields," Ambani added.
When asked as to what assurance did Chidambaram give to the industrialists, Ambani said: "This was not a budget meeting, Chidambaram told us. There will be a separate meeting regarding the budget, and it will be held next week."
"He (the finance minister) asked us to get more investment. Clearly, the big issue is that India is on a re-investment cycle. India has not had any investment in the last seven years. Now, I think, that investment from Indian private sector will also rise. I estimate that the investment in India will be to the tune of around Rs 150,000 crore (Rs 1,500 billion) in next 24 months," said Mukesh Ambani.
Speaking about the finance minister's views on divestment, Ambani said: "The finance minister said very clearly that profitable public sector companies that can compete globally will not be divested of government's management control. But that does not mean that money will not be raised."
"Of course, it means that HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd), which is undoubtedly a profitable and sustainable company, will not be divested. But we are not saying goodbye to raising resources. One of the key elements the world looks at is how much money the government of India is going to raise from divestments. I think that whether the number is Rs 15,000 crore or Rs 20,000 crore (Rs 150-200 billion), that money can still come in by selling of shares. But there is a message that it is goodbye to strategic sale," said Ambani.
When asked if the government's move to reverse foreign direct investment limit in airports from 74 per cent to 49 per cent was one of concern, the Reliance chairman said: "My view is that the good news is that airports are going to be built with private capital. If 51 per cent of the equity stays in Indian hands, it should not really make a difference to you or me who use the airport. 26 percent is in foreign hands and almost the same amount will be in Airport Authorities of India. I would take that very positively. It does not matter because the aim is build a new airport and new infrastructure," he said.
"How one raises money is a separate issue. I think each one of us has access to international capital. My father (Dhirubhai Ambani) always used to say, 'you don't need foreigners to build infrastructure and assets in this country, but you need access to foreign capital.' And that has already happened because of globalisation," Ambani added.
When asked if industrialists who met the finance minister shared their concerns about the Left Front parties and their stance, Ambani said: "There is (RPG Group chief) Harsh (Goenka) and (Videocon chief) and there is Mr (Venugopal) Dhoot who operate in the Left government-run state of West Bengal. They shared their experience and said that it has been very good."
"The general view is that we understand within the industry that economic reforms have to benefit millions and millions of people. But that can happen only when reforms really benefit rural India, right? Those are the kind of reforms that will be sustainable," he said.
On reference to power sector reforms in common minimum programme, Ambani said that every government has the right to change its policies, and corporates have to learn to adjust to them. In the next few weeks details about the revision in power sector policies would be known, he added.