Tuesday, July 28, 2009

RAJYA SABHA - SYNOPSIS OF DEBATE

(Proceedings other than Questions and Answers)
Monday, July 27, 2009/ Sravana 5, 1931 (Saka)
Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology -Contd.
THE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (SHRI A. RAJA), replying to discussion, said :
As the hon’ble Members are aware, the Department of Posts is the largest postal network in the world which provides postal facilities within the reach of every citizen in the country at affordable prices. These include delivery of letters, e-mail, small savings, money remittances, provisions of life insurance and other core functions. Second to the Railways, the Postal Department is one of the biggest Department in the world having huge infrastructure. It is quite natural that in a competitive world to withstand in a competitive environment something afresh must be done. By anticipating new developments in the sector, the Government is well aware that the Postal Department cannot be exclusively used by the commercial department.

Through the non-Plan expenditure, every year, more than Rs.1000 crores is being compensated by the Government of India. We wanted to switch over the business to some other areas; so that revenue can be accrued for this Department. We will operate the savings account. Out of which, some percentage can be given as commission. We are not going to privatize the Postal Department. How the loss incurred by the Department can be managed is the point. 9684 post offices have already been computerized till March 2009. We launched Project AERO. Last year, we modernized 500 post offices across the country. This year, we have earmarked another 500 offices. We are going to start 3000 post offices across the country. Only 5 per cent of the vacancies can be filled up according to the Department of Personnel and Training. Without prior approval, I do hope that the exemption will be obtained from the Ministry of Finance. We will ensure that the 5 per cent that has been earmarked on compassionate ground will be strictly followed, modified Assured Career Progression (ACP) scheme, as recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission, is also under implementation.
One man committee recommended some incentives for the reasons working in the extra departmental post offices. I hope, the Finance Ministry will clear this proposal. Because of the financial crunch we are not able to open post offices wherever the people need them. In the Eleventh Five Year Plan, 3000 post offices will be, definitely, opened. These matters of rate of interest and commission are governed by the Ministry of Finance. We launched the 'Project Arrow'; we computerized the ten thousand post offices. I come to the Department of I.T. The National E-governance Programme has been announced by the Prime Minister. One lakh Common Service Centres are going to be opened. We want that within a couple of years, up to the taluka level, the paperless Government must be ensured. The needs of the people will be put in the common Service Centres. It will be connected with the block level, the State level and the district level.
National E-governance Programme is not exclusively implemented by the Central Government. We are depending upon the State Governments. The semi-conductor policy, has been announced by the department of Information Technology. The Government wants to have its own electronic hardware manufacturing hubs. We have announced the Special Economic Zones. This Government cleared 8-10 projects worth more than Rs. 75,000 crores. These projects are going to be implemented very soon. The Annual Report has been put on the website. It is true that the allocation for Plan schemes under this domain in unchanged. The reason behind this is that we have other Plan schemes for manpower development. We are going to align with the State Governments on how manpower development programmes can be implemented at the State level. The students are not able to update their skills, they are not able to get jobs.

Postal Dept. in talks with SBI, ICICI - Hon'ble MOC Shri.A.Raja said in Rajyasabha

The Department of Posts is in talks with the State Bank of India (SBI) and ICICI Bank for use of its vast post office infrastructure for rural banking.
"In rural areas, we wanted to sell gold coins as banking outlests. We are in talks with ICICI Bank if they want to avail our infrastrucuture for the expansion of their busines," IT & Communication Minister A.Raja said in the Rajya Sabha on 27.7.09 while replying to questions regarding the working of his ministry. For the loss-making rural post offices, this would generate revenue. He said the department of posts can also start savings bank acounts on behalf of SBI.
However, he made it clear that this would not mean privatisation of the services.
"We are not going to privatise the postal services. We want to see how the infrastructure of the postal department in every nook and corner of the country can be put to maximum value," he said.
The minister said desptite the Rs.1,000-crore annual loss, the expansion plan of the postal department is on target.
During the 11th Fiv e Year Plan, 3,000 Post Offices would be constructed.