The first 'Global Natural Resources Conclave', powered by Vedanta, has taken off in New Delhi's Taj Palace Hotel. In his opening remarks, Anil Agarwal, chairman of Vedanta Resources Plc., in his opening remarks, noted that "India was the country that gave the world the Kohinoor. The Taj Mahal and the Victoria Memorial were built with resources present here. India has only done 10 percent of exploration compared to 80 percent in the rest of the world. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking India from a $2 trillion economy to a $20 trillion economy, and the current government's focus on technology, digitisation and communication is taking India from red tape to red carpet."
India is sitting on a plateau of hydro-carbon and its functioning is young, said Sajjan Jindal, chairman of JSW Group, a $9 billion conglomerate, with presence across India, USA, South America and Africa. Jindal praised the passing of the mining bill by the current government that has introduced transparent mining auctions, and for the first time in more than two decades, brought in new mines. "There are cooking coal mines in Jharia in Jharkhand, but India imports 50 million tons of cooking coal. Unleashing what we have is important to generate employment for a population young and hungry to consume and create," he said.
Gina Rinehart, chairman of Hancock Prospecting, a privately owned mineral and exploration company in Australia, is the country's richest citizen, but as quoted by Forbes, "her wealth is built on iron ore, and her fortune can either jump or plummet depending on the price of the commodity". She started her address by pointing out that it was in India that diamond and zinc mining first began — and it is in India that some of the world's first iron and steel was produced, and that India is currently the world's largest producer of sheet mica, and third largest producer of iron ore.
"I borrowed part of Narendra Modi's phrase for the title of my second book From Red Tape to Red Carpet, which was co-launched in India by Modi in 2015," she said. "India is now the fastest growing major economy in the world — lifting living standards and bringing many out of the misery of poverty — a very significant accomplishment and one that many countries respect."
In a speech titled 'The Emperor Fiddles While Rome Burns', she makes a strong statement about Australia, indicating that policies of successive federal governments are making it harder for large investors. To illustrate the gravity of the situation, she quoted from a recent broadcast by the Australian commentator Andrew Bolt, on his program, 'The Bolt Report'.
"Folks, our politicians are fiddling. Right now, our senators in Canberra are arguing about a tax cut for business. Arguing about something that could help businesses keep going, to invest, to hire more Australians when so many of us are now out of work. This is a moment of truth. But our politicians are failing you. The Senate right now is debating whether to limit the government's promise to tax cuts to just small business, turnover $10 million a year, no more... And that means excluding the medium and big businesses that hire millions of us. The ones whose investment we most need. Oh, and that tax cut, it won't be 5 percent any more... Pure fiddling while the country burns. Now I know that somehow class war is back in fashion, the politics of envy feeding that fantasy that if we just tax those companies more then everything would be sweet. Businesses will just keep paying up, not closing down, and we'll be rolling in money. All we need to do is to grab that cash that those 'bloodsuckers' are sitting on, as the new far-left ACTU secretary seemed yesterday to suggest," she said.
"And Labor, the paid-up political arm of the union movement, repeats this class war rhetoric. It's trying to block the company tax cuts, although it knows so well — it even used to publicly admit it — those cuts mean more investment, more jobs. Now some of our top business leaders have been trying to warn us. This country is now at real risk of serious economic trouble if we don't cut red tape, cut spending, cut company taxes, and I mean really cut them, and get more companies to invest and to create more businesses," she added.
She admits that she agrees with Bolt. "Those gathered together today should know what continuing reduction in investment into Australia does. It certainly doesn't provide more sustainable jobs, raise the revenue or raise living standards," she said.
Australia, she tells her governments, needs to learn from the Indian leadership, and US President Donald Trump's economic leadership, by taking decisive steps to make doing business in high cost Australia easier, and like India, roll out the red carpet for investors.
She takes the audience over Hancock's Tad's Corner thermal coal project and the extraordinary number of regulations it had to achieve. The reason for this? "It is not widely told, for instance, that the cost, risk and time lost on approvals, permits and licences before revenue can be earned, has very greatly increased in Australia, making it almost impossible for small companies to carry and comply with such burdens," she said, going on to ask if anyone mentioned to this forum that to open a new mine, build a rail and a new port, it takes 3,104 permits and approvals?
She said complacency and unsuitable government policies in Australia are not in touch with the critical fact that the country needs to be cost competitive in a changing world, that has the capacity to undo much of the hard work and natural advantages that Australia and West Australia enjoy.
The Business Council of Australia in November last year concluded that more than $300 billion of projects are put at risk if the country does not reform its approvals processes. "We need mountains moved in Australia and swamps drained!" Rinehart announced, urging her government to learn from Modi's vision for his country's entrepreneurs and investors, and bringing the world to its shores.
Updated Date: Apr 06, 2017 08:01 AM