Ambarish Mukherjee

New Delhi, April 7

THE Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has set up a 10-member Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, for an alternative decision making process on investments, particularly public investments.

Highly-placed sources in the Government told Business Line that the proposal first came from the Ministry of Power regarding delays caused in taking decisions on investment in power projects.

"After a brief discussion in the Cabinet last week, it was decided to form a GoM on the subject and include the entire gamut of investments, both domestic and foreign investment, with a particular focus on public investments," officials said.

The other members are the Minister for Power, Mr P.M. Sayeed; the Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Mr T.R. Baalu; the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar; the Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr A. Raja; the Minister for Law and Justice, Mr H.R. Bharadwaj; the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia; the Minister for Coal and Mines, Mr Dasari Narayan Rao; the Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Praful Patel; and the Minister for Heavy Industries, Mr Santosh Mohan Dev.

"The GoM would focus on an alternative decision making process that would take care of the various bottlenecks at the Government level and ensure speedy decisions," sources said.

Apart from the delays in the decision making process, the poor growth performance of the infrastructure sector during the first nine months of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government has also caught the attention of the Prime Minister. Consequently, he has convened a stocktaking meeting next week.

While reviewing the nine-month performance, the meeting would focus on the drop in infrastructure sector performance in February 2005,officials said. The sectors that would come under the scanner are crude oil, petroleum refinery products, coal, power, cement and steel.

"During February this year, the performance of these six infrastructure sector has gone below the five-per cent level, causing serious concerns for the Government," official sources said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 8, 2005)
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