Regulatory Reforms Bill should ensure freedom of regulators

PTI, August 05, 2010

The proposed Regulatory Reforms Bill should ensure that functional as well as financial independence of regulators is safeguarded, say policy experts.

“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,” Rajya Sabha MP and former FICCI President Rajeev Chandrasekhar said.

He was speaking at a Parliamentarians’ Forum on Economic Policy Issues (PAR-FORE), organised yesterday by CUTS International to discuss the draft regulatory reform bill being developed by the Planning Commission.

The Bill, which is in the public domain for comments, seeks to simplify the way regulators perform their duties.

It proposes, among other things, to set standards for issuing licences; specifying the principles relating to the determination of tariffs and other charges; enforcing standards with respect to quality and reliability of services; and setting performance standards and adjudicating disputes.

“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,” said E M S Natchiappan, Rajya Sabha MP.

Initiating the debate, Advisor to the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Gajendra Haldea said amendments in the proposed bill could be done depending on comments from various stakeholders after deliberation.

“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,” said Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General CUTS International.

The new bill would be applicable across sectors like electricity, telecom, broadcasting and cable TV, posts, airports, ports, railways and rapid transit system, highways, oil ans gas, coal, water supply and sanitation, and waterways.

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