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Interview

with V.P Ramachandran, Secretary, Process Plant & Machinery Association of India (PPMAI)

01.06.2011 / Energyboardroom

Mr. Ramachandran, could you give our readers a brief presentation of the Process Plant and Machinery Association of India (PPMAI) and its role within the overall Indian industrial sector?

The association is forty seven years old and has been serving the process plant industries since its creation. We are closely associated with all of our members, also in the Oil & Gas industry, including L&T, Aker Solutions, Uhde India, Forbes Marshall, Honeywell, Toyo Engineering, Tecnimont ICB, and so forth.We serve them with respect, support them for any initiative that would involve authorizations from the government, as well as for technical endorsements. The association conducts various programs both on technical and commercial issues in order to support the members.Our members do not have the sufficient time and manpower to deal with specific issues related to export, or taxation, amongst other issues. They lack time to go and see the ministries and resolve their issues. We help them go forward. For instance, the managing director of Tecnimont ICB is always travelling. Albeit this, he came all the way from Punjab to a brainstorming that I organized at PPMAI in order to discuss the way forward for PPMAI members. This shows the attachment and relation between the association and its members.

The association is lobbying on behalf of companies that together have an estimated capacity of six billion USD annually. How do you assess your influence to the authorities or the main public and private stakeholders of the industries you are involved in, or speaking with one strong, credible voice?

PPMAI’s lobbying is often successful. In our brainstorming, we agreed to call both the Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) and the ministries, in order to discuss issues on an open platform.The Indian industry has got a feeling that the Indian ministries, unlike ministries of other Asian countries, do not give the priorities to the local industry. The local industry would grow only when the PSUs will take the firm decision that a certain percentage of major projects should go to the Indian industry only. So far, PSUs have agreed on that. In spite of a few regulation problems – they are not able yet to break through the ice – it should be decided soon.

Amongst numerous activities, the association participates in national and international symposiums and exhibitions. In these events, how do you usually portray India and its industrial capabilities?

These events are good opportunities to display the engineering capabilities of out members, as well as their equipment. We circulate information on Indian companies among the different chambers of commerce.CB&I Netherlands has also been helping us. Although they are today withdrawing their activities from India, thanks to their help we have publicized the Indian Engineering participation at the ACHEMA. At this event the managing director of CB&I will be with us as he wants the Indian engineering capabilities to be displayed.In fact, we receive a lot of enquiries and we are able to bring business to our members. They are always willing to participate in any exhibition that is being put up, both in India and abroad.

Ten years back, engineering companies used to go and visit ACHEMA to understand the latest foreign technologies, learn from them, , and perhaps buy them. The situation has now changed: the technology transfer goes the other way around. Now, Indian companies go there to sell their equipment and technology. They are looking for buyers for the technologies they are able to manufacture from India.

As a financial publication, it is naturally of our readers’ interest to know how developed the Indian financial market is in order to provide the necessary capital for the major local projects. How would you define India’s finance model today?

The sector does depend on public financial institutions like it is the case in Russia and Brazil, considering that institutions do support the sector. But I would say that India is more market oriented rather than state oriented. Locally, financial support needs be generated form the various banks and resources.

In your view what are the future outlooks for the industry in general and the role PPPMAI members can play within it?

O&G will be growing very strongly for another 20 years. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world thanks to specific sectors. Although we also represent other industries such as chemicals, in my opinion, the growth will be centered around oil and gas, power, and fertilizers.

As an association, what do you target for PPMAI in the next five years?

Indeed, we also look for a certain growth. One thing is sure: the responsibilities of the association will be increasing. Today, we are only playing a role of a facilitator, but tomorrow, our role will have evolved with the growth of the sector.

India gathers a large pool of managerial, engineers & technical manpower with work experience in different countries in the world and with English language proficiency. How much is the industry taking advantage of this incredible pool?

I often hear from the industry complains about a shortage in Indian manpower, compared with the requirements.In my opinion, skilled people are available in India. However, it is true that Indian engineers often go abroad both to study and work. The Indian government is doing everything possible to change this, including new developments, establishing training institutes, creating incentives to keep these local talents in India. The government has certain programs in place. Today, with the current economic problems in Dubai and its low activity, many engineers come back from there to work in India.

As an advice to young professionals, what would you say are the must have to succeed in this industry?

You need to be more dedicated. Truthfulness to the job that you do will take you to heights.

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