Parliament panel warns govt against pushing digitisation in "coercive manner"

Parliament panel warns govt against pushing digitisation in "coercive manner"

A parliamentary panel has warned the government against pushing digitisation in a "coercive manner" by rendering ATM machines non-functional or causing needless inconvenience to common man.

It has suggested that the government should instead improve digital infrastructure and network connectivity for seamless transition to digitisation.

"The committee would like to emphasise that digitisation should be incentivised and not pushed in a coercive manner by rendering ATM machines non-functional and causing needless inconvenience to the common people. Processes should not be hastened without adequate back-up infrastructure and robust framework," Standing Committee on Finance said in its latest report, which was tabled in Parliament.

It also rued the uneven distribution telecommunication services particularly in hilly and tribal habitations. "The government's internet growth strategy should be synergised with their larger digital objectives. To this end, the Universal Service Obligation fund should be fully deployed particularly with the public sector telecom companies for extending for extending mobile and internet penetration...," the committee said.

A total of 97% population is covered by 2G spectrum services, 75% by 3G and less than 60% by 4G services in India.

The committee, however, hailed the government's move to bear merchant discount rate (MDR) applicable on digital payments through debit cards, UPI, Bhim etc up to Rs 2,000.

Earlier, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), too had brought down changes to the MDR for debit card transactions, capping it at 0.4% for merchants with turnover of Rs 20 lakh, if the transaction involved physical infrastructure such as swipe machine. For merchants with annual turnover of more than Rs 20 lakh, it has been capped at 0.9% (MDR cap of Rs 1,000 per transaction).

Earlier, there were reports that some banks were pushing to close down their ATMs to contain costs as part of their turnaround plan.

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