India is reportedly planning to dismantle the highest decision-making body of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the Digital Communications Commission (DCC), to increase efficiency and speed up decision-making.
The DCC, which is chaired by the DoT secretary, makes decisions around most telecom matters such as formulating the policy of DoT for approval of the Government, preparing the DoT budget for each financial year and getting it approved, and implementing government policy in all matters concerning telecommunications.
However, most of the critical matters pertaining to the telecoms industry in India are now being taken to the Cabinet for approval, which is making the DCC redundant. With the move, officials hope to remove duplication and speed up the process.
DoE takes over DCC budget decisions
With the decision, the government has also decided to hand over crucial and large-budget decisions to the Department of Expenditure (DoE) under the Finance Ministry, Times of India reported. The DCC currently has lesser financial powers when it comes to bigger projects and its existence is being seen as an unnecessary layer in the whole process.
“This introduction of additional requirement of in-principle clearance from DoE for any new scheme renders DCC effectively devoid of any administrative and financial powers (limited budget and establishment set-up) and even appraisal power is now circumscribed by requirement of in-principle clearance by the DoE,” the report said, citing a government source.
The DoT already does inter-ministerial consultations on important regulations like the telecom bill among others.
Fast track for major projects
A separate report by the Economic Times said that if the DCC layer is removed then the approval for various telecom projects, including those concerning state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) can also be fast-tracked.
“The DoT will finalise most of the issues and take it directly to Cabinet. Further, the finance ministry’s nod is anyways required on major projects, including those in left-wing extremism (LWE) areas and have an outlay of over Rs 100 crore,” the official told the Economic Times.
The Cabinet is expected to soon make the final decision around disbanding DCC.
The DCC was formed in October 2018 to replace the Telecommunication Commission, which came into being in 1989.