TRAI proceeded towards PMO over narrow downing powers: Draft telecom Bill

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will proceed forward towards the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to put upfront its case in opposition to Department of Telecommunications (DoT) shift to ‘substantially dilute its powers in the draft telecom Bill’.

According to Trai, there will be adverse consequences in case the bill gets enacted in its present form, especially in respect to regulation of tariff where the government presently has no power. The bill suggests, along with the regulator, the government  will also have the power in tariffs and can even overrule any decision made by the regulator. This inturn makes the government a licensor, an operator (it owns BSNL/MTNL), as well as a regulator. Moreover, the bill gives the government the right to do changes in any policy on forbearance and Trai has to abide by it. The government has also intruded upon the power of regulator in regard of quality of standards of service and monitoring it. Both has the powers to do the same and incase of clash in decision, the government’s decision will be considered. Subjects like call drops, spam messages and calls, etc, will shifted under to the government.

“If the Central government is of the opinion that any dispute, or class of disputes, may be resolved more appropriately by arbitration, mediation or other process of dispute resolution, then the Central government may establish a suitable mechanism for resolution of such disputes,” reads the clause in this regard.

Furthermore, a written note is in process to be shared with DoT by the Authority which will spotlight its opposition to different clauses in the new Bill. An explicit presentation will be also be represented to PMO by telecom regulator depicting the possibility in change in investors’ confidence and ease in indulging in business which would get affected if Trai’s powers gets gradually decreased, according to a source. Moreover, the presentation will also include the three main areas where the government has intruded upon the powers of the regulator as well as the appellate tribunal like the tariffs, quality of service standards and dispute resolution mechanism.

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