Dear Friends and Colleagues, Several several years back in one of the periodic economic cycles of ups and downs of India, whilst visiting one of our foreign principals, they brought up the issue of the economic situation in India and expressed their deep concern about the impending collapse. Frankly, it took me by surprise and incredulously asked what had they heard that I had not? As it turned out they had read a couple of newspapers to which I turned around and said it’s not as bad as the headlines say. This period too is beginning to sound the same. Yes, there is a slowdown but it’s not that bad. On a real-time basis, one can see that in the next 12 to 24 months an upward march of growth curve is imminent in India.
As this column has been consistently maintaining that the immediate issues that need to be fixed are 1) The resolution of the nonperforming assets (NPA’s) of the Indian banking sector 2) The roll-out of well-considered infrastructure, AT PROPER PRICE POINTS especially in terms of the governmental share of income either as a royalty or sharing in revenue or even upfront fee expectations or valuation for their participating resources. On both these fronts, untiring efforts are on and progress, however slow, is happening.
One more issue that this column always comments on is the monsoon. We have had a more than decent monsoon in India this year and the latest agriculture and sowing reports seem to suggest that this year may well see a very good crop for Kharif and may also see a good Rabi crop as well due to soil/moisture combination as seen in September.
Continuing on the subject of progress, some of the interesting developments in the Gas sector may prove to be very promising for the future. It is expected that natural gas from the eastern Russia may begin to be shipped to one of the gas companies of India. It can well be predicted that gas could become a fuel option thus helping us to reduce our dependence on thermal coal or diesel. The other pointer which is interesting is the "Look East" direction from which Vizag, Paradip and Haldia can only continue to benefit from.
We are truly delighted to share with you a gratifying piece of news. We at J M BAXI GROUP have enjoyed a strong trusted and respected relationship with our bankers, lenders and financial institutions. In this regard, we are proud to announce our agreement with International Finance Corporation (IFC) for participating in the consortium of lenders for our VCT phase 2 project. IFC is indeed a venerable institution being a part of the World Bank family.
We have had a promising quarter at our terminals. Paradip is continuing to play its role as a prominent and pre-eminent gateway for Odisha as well as the East Coast of India for various clean cargo traffic. As compared to the past, PICT has significantly changed the productivity and efficiency norms for handling ships and cargo. These "invisible" benefits eventually do make a major difference in the clients perception of the ports and terminal preference and selection.
VCT has continued to see steady growth and the most exciting development has been the beginning of a direct deep-sea service connecting Vizag to Europe. Such a direct service will enable trade to connect to/ from Vizag to Europe faster and cheaper. Along with this very positive development, our construction activity for VCT 2 is in full swing and I would welcome any of our colleagues and clients who may like to visit the Vizag site. KICT continues to play a positive growth role in the Gulf of Kutch and sooner than we thought we will be needing to have additional equipment to cope with increasing volumes at Kandla. MICT 1 and MICT 2 continues to be eveloping and growing well and Rozi has had a positive period with its strong role in fertilizer logistics. DICT has continued to evolve itself and is now in the top 5 ICD’s of India in terms of volume and efficiency.
The logistics industry continues to be subdued especially in the field of projects and heavy lifts. This is directly linked to capital expenditure for growth and expansion. It is safe to say that this area of economic activity in India will be subdued and should begin to see an uptick in next few quarters.
These quiet times are a great opportunity for “housekeeping and house cleaning”. Almost all of our businesses are a part of the logistics chain and are predominantly evolutionary. The 2 major mantras of the Government of India have been ease of doing business and cost of doing business. We are working closely with our clients and customers reviewing and renewing various processes to help achieve these goals.
The last quarter of this year will also see the various celebratory periods such as Navaratri, Durga Puja, Diwali, Christmas and the New Year. I take this opportunity to wish each and everyone and all your families a joyous and festive season and sign off till 2020.
Krishna B. Kotak
Chairman - J M BAXI GROUP