Skip to main content

Heavy-handed regulation, slow-moving reforms characterize Modi's one year in office: Vodafone chief

By Our Representative
Prominent British daily "Financial Times" (February 26) has criticized Prime Minsister Narendra Modi for "heavy-handed regulation and slow-moving political reforms" as the main hurdles for India’s "battered" telecom sector's efforts to move towards developing next-generation broadband services. The daily quotes the outgoing chief executive of Vodafone, India's second biggest telecom operator, to warn that India may risk missing "a huge opportunity”.
Marten Pieters, who leaves his post at the UK-based telecom group this month, says the daily, just another "most prominent foreign executive" who has chosen to finally break silence and chosen to complain about "limited progress in improving India’s business environment under Modi". The remarks come even as Modi is about to complete one year in office.
One of India's largest foreign investors, which has spent more than $12 billion in developing its business since it launched its India operations in 2007, the daily says, the Vodafone group has "endured a number of problems from a highly publicized $2.6 billion tax dispute to frequent battles over inadequate and excessively expensive supplies of telecom spectrum."
Pointing out that most recently Vodafone "spent a further $4 billion in India’s most recent auctions last month", Pieters is quoted as saying, "India’s issuance of spectrum in bits and pieces has driven up prices and let telecoms groups with roughly $55 billion in net debts." He regrets, “The government has been very focused over the last few years to tap this industry as a milk cow.”
Pieters believes that the telecoms sector is in a “fundamentally worse” condition than when he took up his role as chief executive officer in 2009, adding, the company's debts now mean "operators are unable to roll out services to rural areas or to invest in new broadband infrastructure, hurting telecoms operators as well as companies in fast-growing sectors such as e-commerce."
“We have a huge broadband penetration problem in this country,” Pieters says, adding, “We are worse than Kenya, we are worse than lots of other countries which are supposed to be much less developed than India. There is such a huge opportunity to build services that would help development. But by driving the prices up you create a debt overloaded industry.”
According to Pieters, conditions on the ground haven't yet improved in India, with telecom companies facing excessive taxes and charges, which meant Vodafone had to pay "nearly 30 per cent of gross revenues to the government." He adds, "In general there is too much bureaucracy for the wrong reasons. Tax collection has been extremely aggressive, and we have not seen much change there yet."
The daily says, the Vodafone executive's comment comes even as it begins rolling out superfast 4G telecoms services later this year, even as its focus continuing to be on expanding take-up of more basic data services, where massive opportunities remain for growth.

Comments

TRENDING

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.