A decision on the much talked about proposal of setting up a National Investment Board to expedite projects worth over Rs 1,000 crore was deferred on Thursday in the Union Cabinet.
The issue was deferred, sources said, due to the lengthy discussion on FDI in retail in the Rajya Sabha that went on till late evening, which left Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as other senior ministers exhausted.
Admittedly, there had been differences of opinion on the subject between various ministries, especially the environment ministry which had expressed reservations earlier. Sources, however, indicated that much of the differences had been narrowed down and that the Prime Minister’s Office too had signaled its approval to the proposal.
The sources added that had a discussion taken place in the Cabinet meeting, it could have dragged for considerable time, which was why it was decided to postpone it for another day.
Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha last week, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said there were over 100 projects, each involving investment of Rs 1,000 crore or more, that have been delayed for various reasons. He told the lower house that the main purpose of the NIB would be to expedite the projects within a reasonable timeframe.
Nod for speedy clearance to port projects
The cabinet Thursday approved a proposal for speedy security clearance to port projects developed under the public private partnership mode. PPP projects in the infrastructure sector require mandatory security clearance from various ministries and agencies. For port projects, such clearances are given by the Shipping Ministry. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently reviewed the status of the transport sector including shipping and had asked respective ministries to ensure that bottlenecks are removed.