India’s satellite sector calls for change

India’s satellite sector calls for change

It’s not just India’s mobile communications industry that is complaining about its treatment by regulators. Now India’s satellite builders and communications service providers are asking for a much speedier authorisation system for would-be overseas investors.

In fact, India’s business press is reporting that satellite industry representatives have asked finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) – without a prolonged screening process.

At the moment, all FDI proposals relating to satellites are screened by the Department of Space (DoS) and its internal panel, the Committee for Authorisation of Indian Satellite Systems.

At a time when big names like SpaceX, Amazon and Hughes are spending serious money, this is proving a slow and cumbersome process holding up some potentially major FDI proposals – in some cases for years.

Were 100 percent FDI to be allowed automatically, according to TV Ramachandran, president of the Broadband India Forum, global players might find it easier to set up Indian private companies for participation in space activities.

India’s existing policy does apparently allow 100 percent FDI in satellites, subject to government approval. However, according to Ramachandran, no permission has so far been granted.

And the delays are not minor. Acording to Indian news reports, US company Hughes is still waiting for DoS clearance for a $500 million FDI proposal to build a satellite communications system in India, almost four years after first putting the proposal forward.

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