Transcript: The Tiles of India in conversation with Mr. Chetan Kajaria, Chairman of ICCTAS post-Covid 19 recovery of the industry.
Panna Roy Choudhury: Hello Everyone! My name is Panna Roy Choudhury. I am the Associate Editor of The Tiles of India magazine. I am joined by my colleague, Ms. Shital Joshi, Senior Feature Writer at The Tiles of India magazine. Today we are in conversation with Mr. Chetan Kajaria, who is currently the Chairman of ICCTAS (Indian Council of Ceramic Tiles and Sanitaryware). He is also the Joint Managing Director of Kajaria Ceramics Ltd. Today’s conversation is an attempt to understand his views and outlook on how the industry is grappling with Covid19 and what measures can be taken to help it bounce back as normalcy returns gradually.
Mr. Chetan Kajaria is known in the industry as an astute businessman with visionary leadership and a foresightedness that is extremely commendable. We hope to glean many important insights and hope you enjoy listening to it.
And now I will pass over to my colleague, Ms. Shital Joshi, to take this forward…
Ms. Shital Joshi: As we are all aware, the world is going through COVID-19 pandemic, what message you would like to convey to everybody out there specially to the Indian ceramic tile & sanitaryware and the global industry, which is going through a tough time?
Mr. Chetan Kajaria: We, as ICCTAS would like to pray that all our colleagues, members, and friends across the globe are safe and healthy and are with their loved ones.
SJ: What kind of help is the government providing to the industry and what are you expecting from the government?
CK: We are hopeful that the government will provide a stimulus package soon for the industry. In terms of expectations, ourwish list is only two:
- Today tiles and sanitaryware are no longer a luxury item. These are goods of basic need for maintaining hygiene and health more so in this COVID – 19 times. So it is imperative that tiles and sanitaryware be made affordable to the people. In this regard, we would request that these goods which are taxed at the current rate of 18 percent in the GST regime be brought down to 12 percent. This will not only help the industry to grow much faster but making it more affordable for the people will also help in fulfilling the government’s programme of housing for all by 2022 and increase hygiene which is the need of the hour desperately.
- Natural gas is the main cost component of the tiles and sanitaryware industry. Presently natural gas is out of the GST regime and is subject to different rates in different states. Our industry using natural gas as an input for the industrial process is not able to claim any tax rebates paid on the procurement of natural gas, since there’s an output tax liability of GST on their final product. Natural gas is one of the cleanest and most efficient fuels. Keeping it outside the ambit of the GST is putting the industries using natural gas at a disadvantage compared to those industries which use alternate fuels that comes under GST. So in summary only two requests that ceramic tiles and sanitaryware be taxed at 12 percent instead of the current 18 percent and to bring natural gas under GST to push the Indian economy towards a cleaner and environmentally friendly ecosystem.
SJ: What is the future perspective for the industry?
CK: Going forward, 2020 – 2021 looks a little tough due to the COVID – 19 crises but we feel that 2021 – 2022, will be a year of strong growth and the industry will bounce back very strongly.
SJ: How do you think the industry will be able to bounce back?
CK: Couple of reasons, a pent – up demand, construction would normalise and renovation demand will be generated.
SJ: According to you, what are the factors that might help to overcome this crisis?
CK: As I requested, if these two requests from the government are made (completed), this will go a long way in helping the tiles and sanitaryware industry in overcoming these crises.
PRC: You mentioned about the pent- up demand, could you elaborate a little bit more on it, we would like to know?
CK: So, basically current 2020- 2021, the demand will be a little slow with the crisis happening, but when things get normalised in 2021 – 2022 and the second half of 2020- 2021, then the demand would increase substantially.
PRC: So, you feel that there will be a demand in terms of restructuring or building and that will help the industry accordingly…
CK: Yes, correct, I feel that!
PRC: So, that is a very optimistic view and an optimistic note, so thanks a lot, it was wonderful speaking to you…
CK: It was the same here, thank you for giving me this opportunity…
PRC: Yes sir! And that is exactly the reason why we wanted you on (this platform), it was wonderful speaking to you and we are very happy with this and hope that you will continue to support and give us your co-operation in this (manner). Thank you very much!
SJ: Thank you so much for your time and for coming and joining with us today!
CK: Thank you very much!
(Conducted by Ms. Panna Roy Choudhury and Ms. Sheetal Joshi as a part of a video series presented by The Tiles of India)