Shourie to focus on increasing growth in telecom, IT

Friday, 31 January 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India's newly appointed IT and Communication Minister Arun Shourie said Thursday he would focus on increasing growth prospects in the telecom and information technology sectors.

Shourie, who also holds the disinvestment portfolio, said India must focus on developing its computer hardware sector to allow it to match the global success of its software industry.

"It (hardware) is a very important area and it must reach the same levels of software success," Shourie told reporters after taking over charge of the IT and communication ministry.

Shourie, who was given the additional charge during Wednesday's cabinet reshuffle, said he was committed to a transparent mechanism and the government's role as a facilitator for the growth of the technology industry.

"There must be complete transparency both in the formulation and implementation of policy and also in every transaction in the departments," he said, adding no step should be taken to block technology in the growth of the telecom sector.

On the proposed merger of two state-run telecom giants, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL), the new minister said he would study the proposal. He refused to set any timeframe for reaching a conclusion.

Shourie's taking over the communications and IT ministry from Pramod Mahajan -- who has been shunted out to do party work -- is seen as a move to smoothen the reforms process in the booming telecom sector that has come under a cloud in recent months.

Mahajan had proposed the merger of MTNL with BSNL. Experts say the merger could have blocked the sale of the two companies.

Former newspaper editor Shourie cautioned against any "predatory pricing" in the telecom sector, saying growth should not get affected by intense rivalries on the tariff front.

India's cellular market, one of the fastest growing in the world, is witnessing a fierce tariff war since the past month after the launch of limited mobility -- or Wireless in Local Loop (WLL) -- phone services at sharply lower rates.
Source: IANS
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