New committee to oversee issues of bilateral investment pacts
The government will form a committee headed by cabinet secretary to handle broader issues involving foreign investments made under bilateral agreements with other countries.
It is learnt that the finance ministry has informed the department of telecom (DoT) that a new committee will be formed to oversee broader issues arising out of bilateral investment treaty (BIT) or bilateral investment protection agreement (BIPA) signed between India and other nations.
"The proposed standing CoS (Committee of Secretaries) chaired by cabinet secretary to oversee all issues arising out of BITs or BIPA may handle broader issues relating to BIPAs, already signed and under negotiation," according to government sources.
DoT had sought clarification over the function of the proposed committee and the already formed inter-ministerial group (IMG) for handling legal notice served by Russian conglomerate Sistema JSFC following licence cancellation of its joint venture firm Sistema Shyam Teleservices.
Sistema has served a notice to the Centre invoking the right to protect its investment under a bilateral treaty after the Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecom licences on February 2, in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
Sistema has said it reserves the right to begin proceedings against India in an international tribunal if the dispute is not settled amicably by August 28.
Sistema has a joint venture with India's Shyam Group -- called Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL) -- in which the Russian government has a stake of 17.14 per cent.
Besides, Telenor Asia Pte, Singapore; Capital Global Ltd and Kaif Investment -- both Mauritius based investors in Loop Telecom; and Vodafone International Holdings BV, the Netherlands, have served legal notice to the government.
The committee will not look into specific notices served by an investor to government, sources said.
The finance ministry clarified that specific dispute notices under BIPA or comprehensive economic cooperation agreement may continue to be handled by IMG, headed by the secretary of the concerned department.
"Therefore the issue of dispute covered by notices by or on behalf of Sistema, Telenor, Kaif, Capital may be handled by IMG constituted by DoT," sources said.
DoT had formed an IMG to be chaired by telecom secretary comprising of secretaries from department of economic affairs, department of legal affairs, ministry of external affairs, department of commerce and department of industrial policy and promotion in first week of June.