New telecoms minister to dispel officials’ fears

30 May 2014

India’s new telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has called for officials to make decisions without the fear of persecution later on, saying that the ministry should ‘shun any fear in decision making’ and pledging to ‘fully back honest decision making,’ in a bid to restore order to the sector in the wake of the 2G scandal, the Economic Times writes. Amidst the fallout of the scandal, which ultimately led to the February 2012 Supreme Court ruling that cancelled 122 illegally sold mobile licences, government officials have consistently implemented the maximum level of penalty for any infraction made by telcos, lest they be accused of corruption. The excessive severity of these penalties – such as fines of INR500 million (USD8.49 million) for incomplete paperwork – has only served to further damage the already tainted reputation of the sector. Meanwhile development in the space has stagnated as bureaucrats have increasingly delayed making decisions by seeking legal counsel before taking a stance on an issue. The paper quotes a senior executive from an unnamed carrier as saying: ‘They’re scared of taking any decision that it may come back to haunt them ten years down the line.’

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