Union Minister of Communications Shri Manoj Sinha said that FDI in the telecom sector has jumped nearly five times in the last 3 years – from USD 1.3 Billion in 2015-16 to USD 6.2 Billion in 2017-18. Inaugurating a seminar here on the topic of “FDI in Telecom Sector: The Way Ahead”, he said that India needs massive investment in developing newer technologies which are accessible and affordable to the people and at the same time creates productive employment. For India to utilize its demographic dividend it is absolutely necessary to create semi-skilled jobs in short run, and the Telecom sector will play an important role in creating those employment opportunities, he added.
Shri Sinha said, as we move from telecom India to digital India, it is pertinent to mention that the draft National Digital Communications Policy, 2018 aims to attract investment of USD 100 billion or about Rs.6.5 lakh crore in the Digital Communications Sector. India has also announced plans to launch commercial 5G networks by the year 2020 and this provides a big opportunity for investing in the newer emerging technologies like 5G, AI, IoT, Data analytics etc.
The Minister said that Telecom sector in India has witnessed some upheaval in last 2-3 years. There were many mergers and acquisitions and a couple of unfortunate insolvency proceedings. However, consolidation in the sector will strengthen it as the worst is behind us. He said, numerous steps have been taken in this period to promote the ease of doing business, particularly in the Telecom Sector. To mitigate the stress in Telecom Sector, an Inter-Ministerial Group was established and most of their recommendations have been accepted and are under various stages of implementation.
Shri Sinha said Indian economy is back on the growth trajectory and the 2nd quarter of 2018, GDP showed a promising growth at 8.2%, and India is poised to become third largest economy in the world over the next two decades. Therefore, the Investors/Telecom operators across the world are invited to be part of the growth story of India Telecom through Foreign Direct Investments.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary (Telecom) emphasized the fact the foreign investment is necessary not only to supplement domestic capital but also to secure scientific, technical and industrial knowledge. She also pointed out that telecom sector has always been one of the core sectors attracting highest FDI inflows and this overall this trend has been positive for the past two decades. She said that National Digital Communications Policy, 2018, will be the new platform for convergence of all the stakeholders, where we will be working with growth oriented investment perspective, rather than with fiscal perspective alone.
Ms. Anuradha Mitra, Member (Finance), Telecom Commission informed that pursuant to the decision taken to abolish FIPB last year, Department of Telecommunications, is the nodal department for clearing FDI proposals relating to telecommunications sector. It was also informed that necessary processes/systems have been put in place to undertake this work.
The day-long seminar would include technical sessions and panel discussion, which would sensitize the various stakeholders of the Telecom sector, particularly those from the industry, on the various steps taken by the government to attract investment and ease the process of FDI approvals. Speakers for the seminar have been drawn from government, academia, industry, legal firm, equity research firms etc.
On the occasion, Shri Sinha also released a publication titled “Telecom Sector Growth & FDI:A Way Ahead”, which is a compilation of put together by FIPP Wing of Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT). The compendium attempts to provide relevant information relating to the FDI policy and the telecommunications sector in India at one place to facilitate the stakeholders.
Dignitaries present on the occasion included Shri Sivasailam, Special Secretary, DoT, Shri Atul Chaturvedi, Additional Secretary, Department of Investment Policy and Promotion among others.