Telecom sector success by imports but time to change: Goyal

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday attributed the telecom revolution in the country to imports but stressed the need to start building up capacities to replace them with domestic products, while weeding out undesirable imports.

Goyal was addressing the Board of Trade meeting here where he said imports per se is not an unwelcome issue.

“It (imports) has actually served the nation… served its people better. The telecom revolution had never been possible, we could not never have been the country which consumes the largest amount of data, could not have added a mobile phone in everybody’s hand, could not be talking of 4G proliferating across the country and introducing 5G if we had not engaged with the rest of the world (through imports).

“Of course one can say we would like to see domestic manufacturing coming up much faster there. All imports are not necessarily bad.. We have to categorise them as desirable and the imports which are undesirable,” the minister said.

Goyal said that he wanted the industry and the government to discuss such issues threadbare.

“So we must also discuss what to do with the undesirable exports and how to work towards import substitution on what was considered as desirable imports. In coal mining, what we can do to bring coking coal from the country’s landscape. We have it all under fire in Raniganj and Jharia. So discussions will take us forward to bridge the gap between imports and exports and bring imports down.

“For the undesirable imports, we can have a very quick rapid action plan where we can improve domestic capabilities and capacities and cut off unnecessary imports. But there may be some imports which help our exports competitively which helps the nation serve its consumer better,” Goyal said.

Before mobile handset makers like Samsung, LG, and Vivo set up manufacturing plants in India, the handsets were being imported fully and some were importing mother boards, and chipsets and assembling them here. Telecom network equipment was also imported almost completely for the operators to provide mobile services.

India’s imports bill consists of oil, precious stones (gold and metals), electronics, heavy machinery, organic chemicals, plastics, animal and vegetable oil, iron and steel.

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