Govt to disband telecom body DCC, finance ministry’s DoE to step in

NEW DELHI: In an important decision that has a bearing on policy making in the communications sector, the Centre has decided to disband the Digital Communication Commission (DCC) – a multi-ministry apex decision-making body overseeing all critical telecom matters – and hand over the crucial and large-budget decisions to the Department of Expenditure (DoE) under the Finance Ministry.
The matter will be to be taken up by the Union Cabinet very soon, top sources told TOI, adding DCC was being seen as an “unnecessary layer” that is leading to delays in decision-making on important telecom matters.
The move comes at a time when the government expands and strengthens digital services across states as the next-generation 5G rolls out across the country, while also looking to boost networks in border areas and those impacted by left-wing extremist (LWE) organisations.
The DCC had emanated as a body in October 2018, from the erstwhile Telecommunication Commission which had originally come into being in April 1989. While the Telecom Secretary has been the chairman of the DCC, other members include the CEO of Niti Aayog, and Secretaries of the Department of Economic Affairs, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), and Electronics and IT.
The government believes that since the DoE’s in-principal approval is a must for any major communications industry project that exceeds Rs 100 crore when being cleared by the telecom secretary, getting the DCC also involved in the process only leads to duplication and delays decision-making.
“This introduction of additional requirement of in-principle clearance from DoE for any new scheme renders DCC effectively devoid of any administrative and financial powers (limited budget and establishment set-up) and even appraisal power is now circumscribed by requirement of in-principle clearance by the DoE. The process of introducing another layer of in-principle approval before any scheme is put to DCC will defeat the purpose of the body as it would lead to further delay and would be remedy worse than other department where at least both in-principle approval as well as appraisal is done by DoE,” the source said when briefing on the move, adding that, “In the circumstances, it would be better to wind up the DCC.”
And as the DCC gets disbanded, there would also be re-designation of key members who are part of it and are involved in the decision-making of the body. So, the Member (Finance) will be re-designated as Director-General (Finance), Member (Technology) as Director-General (Technology), and Member (Services) as Director-General (Services). They will report to the Telecom Secretary.
The DCC, through its erstwhile avatar the Telecom Commission, had been envisaged as a specialised body for dealing with important matters around the telecom sector. Unlike the present thinking where its existence is being seen as a burden, it had originally been created to ensure speedier decision-making as it had members from various ministries, including finance. A concurrence at the level of the DCC would have meant a final go-ahead, sufficient to approach the Cabinet.
However, with not much financial powers when it comes to bigger projects, the DCC was being seen as an unnecessary layer in the whole process.

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