Investment board may get powers to speed up green clearance

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Cabinet note being prepared to set up board

The proposed National Investment Board (NIB), a high-powered body to provide single window clearance to large projects, may be armed with overriding powers to speed up environment-related clearances.

Sources close to the development said the Board has moved a step closer to becoming a reality, with the Cabinet slated to take up the issue soon.

Originally mooted in an outlook document as a modification to the existing Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure, the proposal for setting up a Board was mooted by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, while intervening during the deliberation of Full Planning Commission meeting on September 15.

He had talked about considering the need to set up a mechanism at the Cabinet level to take final decisions on major investment proposals especially in the infrastructure sector. He proposed to name this as the ‘National Investment Board.’

A senior Government official told Business Line, “A Cabinet note is being prepared for setting up this board. This board could be structured like cabinet committee such as Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs or Cabinet Committee on Prices so that it is empowered to take decisions.”

The board is proposed to be chaired by the Prime Minister. Setting up of this board is high on the agenda of the Government.

The official also mentioned that the empowerment of the board does not mean that it can amend the law itself, rather, it will focus on issues related with rules.

For example, if the Environment Ministry has notified a particular area, under a law, not to be used for industrial purpose, the board will accept it.

“Amending the law is the prerogative of the legislature and it will be intact. At best, the Cabinet can approve amendments to a law which needs to be ratified by the legislature before implementing,” he explained.

Going by the advice of the Finance Minister, there is a proposal to amend the Allocation of Business Rules.

“Such an amendment will help in overriding issues or concerns raised by individual ministries such as Environment Ministry,” the official added. It is believed that the Environment Ministry initially raised objections to such a proposal, but the official claimed that it had been “sorted out.”

According to Chidambaram, at present, the authority to take the final decision/decisions on an issue, it is allocated to one or more ministries under the Allocation of Business rules. In fact, this is the reason why a truly “final” decision takes a long time to emerge.

The Finance Minister in his intervention talked about extending the board’s authority to proposals/projects where the investment is above a certain threshold, say, Rs 1,000 crore. The official indicated that this limit may be raised.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry has identified projects above Rs 1,000 crore for faster clearances.


Published on September 25, 2012

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