Pressing ahead with its slew of economic initiatives to change the country’s investment climate, the Centre is slated to take a call on the much contested National Investment Board (NIB), now being called the Cabinet Committee on Investment, at Thursday’s cabinet meeting.
The Finance Ministry’s revised cabinet note, which has been drawn up in consultation with the Prime Minister’s Office, will require amendments to the Transanction of Business rules 1961 as it seeks to empower the Committee to decide on any approval or clearance to expedite implementation of key projects that have been delayed for various reasons.
The proposal also seeks to empower the Committee to invite any “relevant participation from states concerned” in its effort to “de-bottleneck key impediments” in implementing major projects in critical sectors.
Armed with the authority to decide on any specific approval or clearance, the cabinet proposal makes it clear its decision “shall be binding on all ministries and departments concerned”.
At the same time, it suggests that its overriding powers will be used for clearing “unduly delayed projects”.
The Committee will not just be like any other cabinet body, but will have its own “small dedicated secretariat” that will oversee implementation of the Committee’s decision besides identifying key projects above Rs 1,000 crore that need to be monitored on a continuous basis. This secretariat will be located within the Cabinet Secretaries.
Some of the crucial powers and functions of the Committee, according to the proposal:
* To be able to decide on any specific approval or clearance for an “unduly delayed project”, if deemed necessary.
* Prescribing time limits for different departments to provide various clearances and approval for specific projects.
* To ensure statutory authorities and regulatory bodies, involved in these clearances, abide by this timeframe.
* Notify key sectors and have the authority to “consider and decide” on measures needed like “simplification of rules and procedures” to expedite decision making. Also, monitor identified projects and obtain approvals and clearances.
* Review issues “affecting grant of clearances and approvals” to key projects, especially those where there has been delays beyond the stipulated time frame.
* Monitor procedures of departments and ministries that deal with grant of clearances and approvals.
Further, the Finance Ministry has stated that after analysis, it has found approvals and clearances impeding projects can be divided into two categories — regulatory approval, which is required by law like environment clearances, and second,