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Govt sets up task forces to boost telecom mfg and tighten imports

The government will come up with a methodology to check imports from neighbouring nations, which are non-compliant to trusted source rules of the telecom sector, Union minister for communications and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Saturday.

The minister had a meeting with over 40 CEOs of telecom gear makers that have qualified for production linked incentive scheme and decided to set up 4-5 task forces to provide market support to them as well as streamline their business for value addition in the economy.

Telecom gear makers expressed concern around import of network gear from China, which is being routed through other neighbouring countries.

When asked about concerns around such imports, the minister said, “This issue was discussed. Representatives from customs department, finance ministry and other ministries… work will be done on it to devise how to check it in a methodical manner.” The minister said that the companies under telecom PLI are close to start export of their gears and India will become an exporting nation very soon.

“During the meeting, many new ideas came, for which we have set up 5-6 task forces. A task force has been set up for creating the component ecosystem. Another task force has been set up for developing 4-5 chips, then taking those chips from design to production. Third task force has been set up to develop highly skilled workers, designers in the telecom sector,” Vaishnaw said.

He said that the companies asked for support testing and certification, which is required for exporting products, for which another task force has been set up to optimise the use of test beds in IIT Madras, Telecom Engineering Centre.

“From my interaction, industry is confident that they are in good traction and India should become a technology exporter in the coming years in a very sure and certain way,” Vaishnaw said.

The minister said a task force has been created to aggregate demand under various government departments like railways, power and defence, and channelise it to players who are manufacturing under the PLI scheme.

He said that telecom operators in the country are also supporting local manufacturers.

“There are demands in various departments. If those demands are oragnised and channelised and are given to units under the ‘make in India’ and PLI then it will be a significant boost for manufacturing,” Vaishnaw said.

The Department of Telecom has selected 42 companies that have committed investment of Rs 4,115 crore. The government estimates that the scheme is expected to generate additional sales of Rs 2.45 lakh crore and create additional employment of more than 44,000 over the scheme period.

Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman asked PLI-shortlisted companies to invest in skill sets to develop talents, which is also necessary for making world-class products.

Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC) CEO Arvind Bali said the minister in the meeting asked companies to become market leaders and create world-class skill sets in the country for increased share in the global market.

During the meeting, industry players said that revenue generated out of PLI investment is committed to Rs 50,000 crore, and an investment of Rs 1 crore is creating about 15 new employment opportunities.

GX India CEO Paritosh Prajapati said the hand holding from the government will help in taking MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) to the next level.

“This support from the government has morally boosted our investors to invest more in the Indian market for export to the European Union and set up India as a global electronics hub. We discussed the secured network having a product with Indian design and Indian software IPR. We have asked the government to incentivise people who have Indian IPR in design and software,” Prajapati said.

Customer premise equipment maker Matrix Comsec Managing Director Ganesh Jivani said that he asked for relaxation of the investment threshold for domestic companies that already have excess manufacturing capacity and support to boost exports.

Netlink ICT, planning and development director Saiko Thomas said that Chinese companies are selling their products at city level, which has got security repercussions.

“Chinese products are entering into the Indian market through Bangladesh and some of them are coming directly. Many FTTH players in small cities are installing them. The last mile fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) players are estimated to account for 50 per cent market share in the segment. Government has assured us that they will work on it,” Thomas said.

Electronics contract manufacturer Jabil finance manager Suhas Badmanji said that all issues of the company have been addressed by the government and the company has also exceeded investment targets under the PLI scheme. PTI

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