Regulations
Cabinet nod for merging FDI, FII limits
The cabinet committee on economic affairs on Thursday cleared a policy for determining composite foreign investment limits by including funds flowing through foreign direct investment (FDI), foreign institutional investment (FII) and other routes.
 
The committee approved "the introduction of composite caps for the simplication of foreign direct investment", Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the cabinet meeting here. 
 
The decision of merging the limits of foreign direct and portfolio investments into a composite cap is essentially a move towards giving companies more flexibility for deciding on the desired mix of foreign investment.
 
It will also bring in transparency and clarity on the country's foreign investment policy.
 
Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left, have been against the proposal on the ground that portfolio investment is in nature very short-term "hot money" that can leave the country at any time, creating crises of capital outflow.
 
In this connection, the government said on Tuesday that FDI in the country has seen a 48 percent growth since the launch of the 'Make in India' initiative in September last year.
 
"The FDI growth has been significant after the launch of 'Make in India' initiative in September 2014, with 48 percent increase in FDI equity inflows during October 2014 to April 2015 over the corresponding period last year," a commerce ministry statement said.
 
In 2014-15, the country witnessed unprecedented growth of 717 percent or $40.92 billion in investments by foreign institutional investors (FIIs), it said.

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Panel favours end to free call regime over Internet
In a move that can end the free regime for domestic calls made through Internet messenger services such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype, an official panel has suggested that they be benchmarked against regular telecom service providers for tariff and regulation.
 
Yet, it has said other communication services offered by them dealing with messaging should not be interfered with through regulation. "For these application services, there is no case for prescribing regulatory oversight similar to conventional communication services," it said.
 
"Under existing telecom licensing conditions, Internet telephony is permitted under restricted conditions. But pricing the arbitrage of OTT (over-the-top) domestic voice communication services has the potential of significantly disrupting existing telecom revenue models," the panel said.
 
"The existence of a regulatory arbitrage, in addition to the pricing arbitrage, adds a degree of complexity that requires a graduated and calibrated public policy response to bring about a level playing field," said the committee that was asked to look at the whole gamut of net neutrality.
 
The panel, headed by technocrat A.K. Bhargava, said the tariff plans offered by telecom and Internet service providers must conform to the government's principles of net neutrality, and the the watchdog asked to examine the tariffs in accordance with the stated objectives.
 
"Legitimate traffic management practices may be allowed but should be tested against the core principles of net neutrality," it said, but wanted a "liberal regime" for voice telephony over the Internet for international calling services.
 
Still an evolving concept, net neutrality means governments and Internet service providers must treat all data and services on the Internet equally, and must not levy differential tariffs for usage, content, platform, sites, application or mode of commun“cation.
 
Reacting to the report, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said India already had enough regulations on the Net telephony and there was no need to further bring a licensing or revenue share arrangement between the various types of service providers.
 
"This will disrupt VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) and will also skew any further innovation in the same field which is need of the hour," it said.
 
"We need to facilitate OTT services. The idea is not to increase regulatory burden on OTT players but to reduce it on telecom players. The committee is suggesting a higher regulatory burden on OTT players, which is retrograde," said Mahesh Uppal, director of telecom consultancy Com First.
 
"Instead, it should have sought to equate the regulatory burden by reducing the burden on telecom players," Uppal told IANS.
 
The committee said the primary goals of net neutrality should be directed towards achievement of developmental aims of the country by facilitating universal, affordable broadband with a good quality of service for its citizens.
 
"Over-the-top application services should be actively encouraged and any impediments in expansion and growth of OTT application services should be removed," the report added.
 
"As recognized in today's report, we introduced the Internet.org platform to promote an internet access model that is open and non-exclusive," said Kevin Martin, vice-president for Mobile and Global Access Policy at Facebook.
 
"We welcome the Department of Telecom's engagement and consultation process and are committed to working with all stakeholders to overcome the infrastructure, affordability and social barriers that exist today and to bring more people in India online," Martin added.
 
However, a non-governmental organisation, Telecom Watchdog, reacting to the report has written to the Prime Minister's Office, condemning it.
 
"The report's key recommendations, if implemented, would impact crores of subscribers. On the face of it, the recommendations look like as if it supports 'net neutrality', but in fact the details are contrary. It is anti-consumers and bad for the business of Digital India," the letter said.
 
The report also said national security is paramount, regardless of treatment of net neutrality.
 
"The measures to ensure compliance of security related requirements from OTT service providers, need to be worked out through inter-ministerial consultation."

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COMMENTS

mathai

2 years ago

funniest of reasons. has the potential of significantly disrupting existing telecom revenue models
and good enough to bring back bullock carts. just price up the truck service adequately so that goods transportation by bullock carts become viable.

Private players to redevelop 400 rail stations
Indian Railways will redevelop 400 stations with help from private parties, the government said on Thursday.
 
The decision was taken by the cabinet at a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an official statement said.
 
The stations open for redevelopment are classified 'A-1' and 'A'. These are located in metros, major cities, pilgrimage centres and important tourist destinations across the country. 
 
Interested parties will have to present their design and business ideas, including commercial development of real estate.
 
The decision assumes significance as it will allow private parties to take part in the redevelopment of stations. 
 
"As the IRSDC (Indian Railway Station Development Corp) is able to undertake redevelopment of only a few stations, it was proposed to redevelop stations through invitation of open bids from interested parties," the statement said.

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COMMENTS

mathai

2 years ago

a slow but steady step towards privatisation of the biggest and prestigious govt asset. which may stop only after private parties get exclusive rights to run trains and charge at will on the rails set up with decades of efforts and huge public funds.
private parties are interested becoz of the unlimited demand ( while it was unlimited supply in coal scam) which will enable them to charge even 10 times the current fare with a little support from the govt

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