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Regulatory Authorities: How to Make these More Effective?


My first blog, on Regulatory Authorities, a few days ago, brought forward some very useful responses to my 7 proposals (reference https://www.tarundas.com/post/regulatory-authorities-india-s-new-phenomenon-7-proposals). Clearly, this is an issue which commands attention and, therefore, here is second blog on this issue.

A major point which has come up is the essential need to strengthen the human resources in Regulatory Authorities. Their domain knowledge. Their capabilities. Their superior level of data and information. Their understanding of the laws and rules prevailing in the country.

And, these are all not going to come automatically without proper planning and training.

At the level of the incoming Chairmen and Members of the Regulatory Authorities, a structured orientation program has been suggested to make them effective and efficient. A connected idea is to appoint Chairmen and Members from amongst serving officers, not only retired personnel. Working in Regulatory Authorities can be part of the careers of IAS and other cadres. This would be a welcome diversification in career opportunities at the senior level.

And, for these who come after retirement at 60, the retirement age for Chairman could be 70 and, for Members, 65. This will ensure continuity and the benefit of experience and additionality of Knowledge.

For the officials in Regulatory Authorities, a full-fledged Training Program needs to be framed covering personnel from across Regulatory Authorities. The subject to be covered would include the role and organisation of Regulatory Authorities, alternative Regulatory approaches, policy formulation and the rulemaking process, knowledge of the various Acts and bye-laws, the relationship with Government/Ministries, relationship with the public, the media and state governments, and other relevant subjects. Faculty could include senior officials of Regulatory Authorities, Government officials, Media, Legal, Academic and Industry experts.

Apart from Training Programmes for officials of Regulatory Authorities, there is also need for Training Programmes for all others who have to deal with such Authorities. They also need inputs, so that the entire system works efficiently. There is scope here for specialised Training organisations.

Another dimension of developing Regulatory Authorities as strong, professional, independent institutions would be to rotate personnel between Authorities. This will help broaden the knowledge base of the officials.

Regulatory Authorities are here to stay. We need to put our best foot forward to give them maximum independence and effectiveness because they work for the economy, the people, the public. They are Regulators but, also, in the service of the Nation.

They can help relieve the business of unnecessary Regulatory burden and prevent special access for special interests. They can Regulate only where necessary.

To make Regulatory Authorities, instruments of development, these need to be located in different parts of India. RBI, SEBI are in Mumbai. IRDAI is in Hyderabad. Similarly, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board should be in Ahmadabad. Distribution of Regulatory Authorities all over the country would be a welcome decentralisation, rather than concentration in Delhi. With a Coordinating Council as proposed in my earlier blog.

The Coordinating Council could also oversee the recruitment of Regulatory Authority officials through the setting up of a Selection Board consisting of five Chairpersons of select Regulatory Authorities.

India has come late to the setting up of Regulatory Authorities but, with thought and planning, India could lead and be a role model for other countries around the world.

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©2020 by Tarun Das and Ishan Roy.