‘There are many issues to be addressed in telecom’ Interview Kapil Sibal
The new telecommunications minister, Kapil Sibal, has the image of a reformist and hard working minister.business Updated: Dec 17, 2010 22:38 IST
The new telecommunications minister, Kapil Sibal, has the image of a reformist and hard working minister. Sibal’s initiatives as education minister have been making waves for a while. Now he has been tasked by the Prime Minister with the additional role of reforming telecom. Excerpts from an interview:
Would you agree that the telecom sector in a state of crisis?
I really don’t think so… I think the sector has enormous potential and what we need to do is realise that. And for that we need the industry to be together. One of the biggest problems in the telecom sector is that there are warring factions and one set goes public against the other… In the recent past we have had some salacious details which should not be in the public domain. And I think that’s really the heart of the problem. The 2nd issue is the CAG report has bought about issues that have to be addressed and answered and we hope that they are addressed quickly. Once that happens and we are able to give a level playing field... I think we will be able to move forward.
Do you believe that real issue here is the flip-flop in the telecom policy?
I don’t want to give value judgments at this stage. The telecom sector has emerged only after 1995... you know that process failed for one reason or the other. So can you call that flip-flop because people were experimenting and did not know what would succeed or exceed? Continued from Page 25 Then people decided to move away from that process, from the auction process to a revenue sharing process …and that succeeded. In that process certain decisions were taken because you wanted the telecom sector to grow. We were learning at every stage and we continue to learn. The important thing is as we take decisions they must be non-discriminative.
What would be your first major policy move in telecom?
First I have to bring confidence into the sector that the ministry will function in a transparent, non-discriminatory manner. Secondly I want to make sure that the industry survives. But we should not send a message to the industry that we are not bothered about the survival of the industry, all we are bothered about is sending people to jail. At the same time there should be a message that those who have done wrong will not be spared.
You have made this important point about the global arena. Nowhere in the world are there 14-15 telecom players per circle. Do you think that is sustainable?
These are all issues that we will have to address, and quickly. On the one hand its great for the consumer to pay a tariff of 30 paise to 50 paise per call and on the other hand we must also ensure that the industry and the telecom sector survives.
The govt has set an example with 3G auctions. Will this be the benchmark for pricing in future?
Yes there are several possibilities this is one of them… (Pranjal Sharma is executive editor, Bloomberg-UTV)