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Planning Commission to study regulatory issues

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NEW DELHI: Planning Commission, a government think-tank on economic issues, has set up two cells to look into the issues of infrastructure and regulatory mechanism in areas where it exists and in those where it doesn't.



The cell on regulatory mechanism would study the broadcast and cable industry too, apart from other industry sectors like petroleum, energy and telecom.



The Planning Commission, which is to compile a paper on the regulatory issues, is likely to complete its mandate by end October.



This was confirmed today here by deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia at an interactive session held under the aegis of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).



According to technocrat Ahluwalia, a major concern currently faced by investors is that the regulatory regime is either not clear or certainly not internationally benchmarked. "The Commission has been asked to prepare a paper on regulatory standards to bring about effective private public sector partnership in critical infrastructure investments," he said.



Plan panel sources indicated that broadcast and cable industry issues would be taken up as to whether the sector needs a separate regulatory body --- on the lines of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) that is overseeing this sector too along with the telecom segment --- or an all-encompassing regulatory framework is needed for the convergence space.



There are indications emerging from information and broadcasting ministry that it would ideally like Trai to relinquish its say over the broadcast and cable sector. On several occasions in the past, I&B minister Jaipal Reddy has said that Trai is an interim measure adopted by the previous government.



Speaking at Ficci, Ahluwalia elaborated that the Commission proposes to work on the regulatory regime in a two-stage operation.



First, it would work out the general principles that a regulatory framework should meet. Then in the next stage, it would review the status of the regulatory system in each sub-sector like telecom, power, ports and roads. "The idea is to pinpoint the changes actually required to evolve a credible regulatory structure to attract investments," Ahulwalia explained.



The paper will get completed for the government to study by year-end and will be part of the mid term appraisal of the 10th Five-Year Plan. The document will first go to the cabinet and then to the National Development Council for the approval of the states.



Ahluwalia also said that said that Indian Infrastructure needs a major facelift and in recent years lack of quality infrastructure has adversely affected the flow of foreign direct investment towards India.



Elaborating on government's plan to address the issues related to infrastructure development, Ahluwalia said that FDI couldn't come just because the government policy says that `investment is welcome.' It mainly depends on the underlying economic environment and "there is a widespread perception that a single major factor holding investors back is the quality of Indian infrastructure," he added.

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