The government Thursday notified constitution of the Prime Minister-headed 19-member Cabinet Committee on Investment, virtually giving it all powers sought by the Finance Ministry in its original proposal.
The notification makes it explicitly clear that the committee would be empowered to “review” cases even where approvals and clearances required for projects were refused by ministries. The functions of the committee would include “review of procedures followed by ministries/departments to grant/refuse approvals and clearances”.
The mandate to “review” was a virtual expansion of the role as sections of the government had insisted that CCI should only “monitor” procedures followed by ministries and departments in grant and refusal of clearances, sources said.
A close reading of the notification suggest that CCI will not overstep the powers of statutory regulatory authorities as it was silent on this aspect.
The notification dated January 2 also makes it clear that the erstwhile cabinet committee on infrastructure would be merged with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs whose functions have also been revised. Besides, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, the CCI has Ministers of Petroleum, Urban Development, Civil Aviation, Telecom, Road Transport, Railways, Coal, Mines, Law and Justice and Water Resources as it members.
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and I&B Minister Manish Tewari will be special invitees to the committee.
While the committee is empowered to identify projects in sectors like infrastructure and manufacturing where the investment is Rs 1000 crore or more for its consideration, the notification significantly allows it to oversee “any other critical projects” as it may deem fit. Further, it will have powers to “take decisions” regarding clearances to projects that are “unduly delayed”.
The revised functions of the CCEA include considering proposals of investments of more than Rs 300 crore which was the mandate of the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure - which has ohw been merged with the CCEA.