Disconnect In India's Rural Telecom Fund; $4.65 Bn Lay Idle

New Delhi: A fund created 10 years ago to help link each of India's 638,596 villages with telecom and broadband connectivity with mandatory contributions by private service providers seems to be idling, with a whopping $4.65 billion in balance.

Thus far, around $8.4 billion ( 50,682.95 crore) has been collected towards what is called Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) since 2002-03 when parliament approved the scheme. Official data shows $4.65 billion ( 27,949.91 crore) remains unused.

While experts and stakeholers question the rationale behind continuing with this fund, which imposes a financial burden on telecom operators, those entrusted with it say it is just a matter of time before it starts showing and fetching results.

"This fund is equivalent to 0.25 percent of India's gross domestic product and remains unallocated and is highly inefficient," said Gabriel Solomon, the public policy head of Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), the global association for mobile companies.

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Source: IANS