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

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.

India, Pakistan told to eliminate nuclear weapons: N-war "would kill" 2 billion

Counterview Desk
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens, claiming to share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation, has warned that “an unprecedented global catastrophe” awaits the globe against the backdrop of warmongering in India and Pakistan.