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CII dubs postal amend bill regressive, seeks revision

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Mar 5 (UNI) Dubbing the upcoming Indian Post Office (Amendment) Bill as a ''retrograde step'' for India and its economy, Confederation of Indian Industry has called for its urgent revision, failing which it would lead to wasting gains of many years in building secure, efficient and productive communication and delivery networks.

One of the proposed recommendations of the Bill envisages debarring courier and express companies from carrying documents weighing less than 500 grams, according to CII.

Underlying the need for a wider discussion and consensus among the user segments and the stake-holders on proposed amendments before the bill is presented to the Parliament, CII cautioned that the legislation in its present form will severely impact India's credibility in the global business environment, and also significantly erode the efficiency and competitive gains that have been attained by the Indian industry in the recent years.

The draft of the Bill ensures that all documents and letters below 500 grams in weight will be the exclusive domain of the department of Posts, thereby expanding the sphere of its monopoly, regulating courier and express business operators, and levy a Universal Service Obligation (USO) fee on these operators, CII said.

The apex body of Indian industry said the amendments would derail investment commitments into building India's logistics infrastructure at a time when the sector has closely integrated itself with global business and technology processes.

The amendments would also severely affect an industry which is a significant provider of employment, CII said and added that the sector provides employment to over one million people, drawn mostly from the economically weaker and the unskilled segments of the population.

The courier and express industries are a critical part of the country's overall logistics and cargo industry, contributing over Rs 600 crore to the national exchequer, it said.

CII believes the sector has 2,500 operators in both the organised and unorganised sector, generating Rs 6,250 crore in revenue, and is a significant contributor to India's recent advances in domestic and international trade and commerce.

It said the Indian economy has benefited immensely from the competitive, customised and assured communication and logistics services that the country's courier and express industry provides.

Any move to limit their operations would have a far-reaching impact on the economy as a whole, with a host of gains in speed, efficiency, entrepreneurism, productivity and customisation of communication, being wiped out.

The credibility of document-communications in India is bound to take a hit if the postal amendments are brought about, it added.

Focusing on the issue of consumer choice, the CII said when more and more sectors are being opened to competition, the postal sector seems to be heading towards regulation, control and reinstatement of government monopoly. Vesting the government with the exclusive right to carry all documents would go against the spirit of competition and free trade, it said, adding that limiting consumer choice constitutes a restrictive practice.

CII argued that the proposed amendment infringes upon the right of choice of a whole array of current users of courier and express services such as banks, business enterprises and lawyers, companies and also the government, its ministerial departments and state and Union legislatures.

UNI SA SSS NV1233

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