S Asian regulators meet to boost competition, infra investment

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Nov 4 2009, 02:09am hrs
Regulators from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives will gather in New Delhi on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss present state of regulations and how to facilitate fair competition and boost investment in the infrastructure sector. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has taken a lead to organise the conference. CERC chairman Pramod Deo told FE, South Asian countries have responded to the changing times by ushering in suitable policies and regulatory mechanisms. The conclave will examine the prevailing regulatory framework and the emerging environment in the full spectrum of infrastructure in South Asian countries.

According to the information compiled by CERC, India needs investments worth $515 billion for infrastructure development, $110 billion for Pakistan and $15 billion for Bangladesh. Electricity and roads account for 66% of the total investment needs followed by telecom, water and sanitation. Investment opportunities in South Asia are today at peak and will remain attractive because of the regions natural strengths such as a low cost base, large skilled workforce, professional management expertise and growing domestic markets. In the last decade and half, the South Asian countries have seen a paradigm shift in the way infrastructure is developed and managed. The public private partnership (PPP) model has been widely adopted across the region to supplement scarce public resources, create a competitive environment and bring in greater efficiency in the delivery of infrastructure services.

However, sources said the new policy environment and the opening up of the sector have necessitated progressive changes in the regulatory framework to balance and safeguard the interest of all stakeholders. According to sources, the participants would share experience in their respective countries on whether or not regulations have helped increase investments or created roadblocks largely in the format of lengthy legal process. More importantly, some issues continue to come in the way of successful implementation of PPP projects that include land acquisition and obtaining environmental and other clearances.