3G: Telcos seek PM intervention, threaten to surrender spectrum

In a letter, jointly signed by Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel, Kumar Manglam Birla of Idea and Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao, they said the move to bar 3G Intra-Circle Roaming would be a clear breach of the contract and the pre-auction confirmation given by the government. The operators have asked the government to refund the spectrum auction payments with interest

New Delhi: Chiefs of three leading telecom firms—Bharti, Idea and Vodafone—have sought prime minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to resolve the dispute of third generation (3G) roaming pact or else they threatened to surrender spectrum, reports PTI.

In a letter, jointly signed by Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel, Kumar Manglam Birla of Idea and Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao, they said, “...in the event that 3G Intra-Circle Roaming (ICR) is now deemed impermissible, then, it would be a clear breach of our contract and the pre-auction confirmation given by the government.” 

The three CEOs further said, “In that eventuality, we request that our spectrum auction payments be refunded to us with interest (as) compensation for all the capital investment made by us.” 

The telecom ministry and sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) have termed the roaming pact among these players as illegal saying this tantamount to spectrum sharing which is not allowed as per the policy.

In the auction for 3G spectrum, held last year which had fetched over Rs68,000 crore for the government, the operators had won certain circles. Later, they entered into roaming pacts with each other for circles in which they could not win the bid.

“We seek your most urgent intervention to ensure that contract and promises are honoured, otherwise the reputation of an acclaimed, transparent auction, will be harmed irreparably,” the trio said.

Besides these players, others like Tatas and Aircel have also entered into similar agreements for various circles.


Much needed move to empower people?

Has the time come for an effective Citizens Right to Grievance Redress Bill? Will the government enact a legislation that will truly empower ordinary people? Civil society needs to debate the provisions of the draft bill that is released for public discussion and feedback

The Citizens Right to Grievance Redress Bill, 2011 seeks to “lay down an obligation upon every public authority to publish citizens charter stating therein the time within which specified goods shall be supplied and services be rendered and provide for a grievance redressal mechanism for non compliance of citizens charter and matter connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

The bill, drafted by the Department of Training and Personnel was placed in the public domain on 3rd November as part of the pre-legislative consultation process. Although it was expected that the Bill would be introduced in the winter session of Parliament that began today, it does not figure in the  reported agenda for the session.

This may help by giving civil society and advocacy groups the time to gather public opinion on the provisions of the draft and give their suggestions to the government. Moneylife Foundation is holding a workshop on 24th November to discuss the draft Bill. Aruna Roy, member National Advisory Council, and her colleague Nikhil Dey from the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), who have pointed out some important lacunae in the Bill will address the workshop.

The demand for an effective mechanism to handle citizen grievances is as old as the hills. Forty years ago, in my PhD dissertation on Administration and the Citizen (Bombay University), I had reviewed the many administrative attempts that had already been made in India until the mid-1960s. Every administrative reforms committee or commission set up by the government until then had suggested ways to deal with expectations of people – and their complaints. Many of these recommendations had been accepted by the governments of the day – at the Central as well as state. And it might be interesting to note that several of these mechanisms had been ‘wound up’ due to lack of resources and as measures to cut down government expenditure.

There is one major difference between then and now. Until the 1970s, when India was still on the course of ‘planned development’ pursuing a ‘Welfare State’ vision and the objective was to seek citizen participation in development processes. Today, as we pursue the goals of a market economy when the State is no longer providing ‘welfare’ but ‘goods & services’ for which it levies user charges, the demand for such mechanisms has become more vociferous, and urgent, because we the citizens want to get our money’s worth; no longer is it doles from a maa-baap sarkar. Government officials – of every kind – the lawmakers, bureaucracy, and judiciary – have to understand that no longer is the citizenry going to treat them as ‘those in power’; they are ‘public servants’ providing services to the citizens; their salaries and perks are paid by citizens – from the taxes they pay. And those who pay the piper are going to call the tune. The sooner this is accepted at every level of government, the less stressful will it be for them to adjust to the new reality.

It is commendable that the government wants to embody the need for grievance redress in legislation and give it to us as a ‘Right’. But if legislation alone could yield good governance, it would have been a different India. Only a vigilant and articulate citizenry can ensure that the laws that are enacted have responsive provisions built into them so the bureaucracy does not hijack the spirit of the law through subordinate legislation. It is to this end that advocacy groups should take the citizen’s voice to the government and the parliamentary committee debating the Bill.

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GSPC in talks with Singapore’s GIC for raising funds

A delegation from GIC, led by its managing directors, Kunna Chinniah and Chua Lee Ming, visited Gujarat last month and met chief minister Narendra Modi to explore the possibility of investing in GSPC

Ahmedabad: Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) is holding talks with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, for raising funds, reports PTI.

“After getting the Gujarat government’s approval to raise Rs2,000-Rs2,500 crore through private placement of equity, talks are now under way with GIC, the world’s leading sovereign wealth fund,” a top company official told PTI. He, however, did not divulge the details.

A delegation from GIC, led by its managing directors, Kunna Chinniah and Chua Lee Ming, visited Gujarat last month and met chief minister Narendra Modi to explore the possibility of investing in GSPC, a top finance department official said.

“Whether the fund raising for the state PSU will be through equity dilution or some other route is still not clear, as talks between GSPC and GIC are still underway and a final decision has not been taken yet,” he said.

The Gujarat government now holds 91.35% equity stake in the company.

Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) is one of the world’s leading sovereign wealth fund, established by the Singapore government.

SBI Capital Markets and nine other companies had acquired 5% equity stake in GSPC for a cash infusion of over Rs1,000 crore in December 2009.

Deen Dayal West (DDW) field, in Krishna Godavari (KG) basin, on coast of Andhra Pradesh, is amongst the major assets of the company having production area covering around 17 km.

On conservative estimates, the Director General of Hydrocarbon (DGH) has certified 2 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in GSPC’s Deen Dayal block in KG basin.

According to GSPC estimates, for the field development plant (FDP) of DDW, around $1,801.04 million (Rs8,464.80 crore) shall be required. Of this, $1,270 million (Rs5,971.80 crore) shall be the fund requirement by financial year 2013, to start commercial production.

The cost of developing DDW has escalated further with an appreciating dollar.

GSPC, had last year tied up for Rs3,000 crore term-loan through a consortium of 15 banks, led by Bank of Baroda, to finance its Deen Dayal field.

The state-run energy major was to come out with an IPO in June last year, to raise over Rs3,000 crore but it did not materialise.


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