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Ninth Meeting

WHITHER THE REGULATORY REFORM IN INDIA -
A Discussion on the Draft Regulatory Reform Bill
New Delhi, India, August 3, 2010

CUTS organised the 9th Parliamentarians? Forum on Economic Policy Issues (PAR-FORE) meeting in Dy. Chairman Hall, Constitution Club, New Delhi on August 3, 2010, PAR-FORE has been an initiative of CUTS to bring Members of Parliament (MPs), cutting across party lines, on a single platform to mull over the core economic policy issues that come up for discussion in and out of the Parliament.

?In India, the approach to regulation is ad-hoc. The purpose of the draft regulatory reform bill is to bring in uniformity in various approaches to regulatory reforms in India. In order to ensure effective adoption of the regulatory reform bill, some key building bloc issues should be clarified. They are functional and financial independence of regulators, accountability and clear definition of the role of regulators and line ministries,? said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP (Rajya Sabha). He was speaking at a Parliamentarians? Forum on Economic Policy Issues (PAR-FORE) organised by CUTS International to discuss the draft regulatory reform bill developed by the Planning Commission. A number of parliamentarians and regulators participated in the discussion held yesterday at the Constitution Club in New Delhi.

Initiating the discussion, Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International mentioned that the bill lays down a cohesive approach to regulation. There are several common factors such as independence, accountability, which needs to be universal. The bill does not suggest setting up of a super regulator, neither that it undermines the role of the existing regulators but it aims to simplify the process of regulatory reforms in India.

While presenting the bill before the meeting, Gajendra Haldea, Advisor to the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission emphasised that the draft bill is being presented in the public domain for eliciting views on the nature and extent of legislative action necessary for reforming the regulation of key infrastructure sectors in India. He requested all the stakeholders to submit detailed comments on the provisions of the bill, which will be considered while revising it.

Dr. E. M. S. Natchiappan, MP (Rajya Sabha) suggested that the bill should be looked as a procedural law, which should specify various parameters on issues such as appointments, independence, accountability in order to bring in harmony across the regulatory regime in India. K. N. Singh Deo, MP (Lok Sabha) argued that the proposed bill should not undermine the role of the states in delivering its assigned functions. Yashwant Bhave, Chairman, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) of India suggested that ?one-size-does-not-fit-all? approach to reform the regulatory regimes in India will not succeed as issues and challenges differ from sector to sector.

It was debated that for the Indian economy to achieve and sustain a high rate of growth, the creation of quality infrastructure is critical. It is estimated that India needs more than a trillion dollars of investment in infrastructure. It was highlighted that such a large magnitude of investment cannot come from the public sector alone. The private sector will have to be persuaded to invest more. It is in this context that the markets are to be regulated optimally so that non-market risks are minimised through a predictable legal environment.

Other MPs present were Ashok Ganguly, Bhatruhari Mahtab, and Anup Kumar Saha. Among others, Dhanendra Kumar, Chairman, Competition Commission of India, Pramod Deo, Chairman, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, Ravi Mital, Adviser (Infrastructure) of the Planning Commission, and Ashish Khanna of the World Bank were present and spoke on the subject.

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