Necessary for growth

Chandrajit Banerjee | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on October 12, 2012

A body such as the National Investment Board (NIB) is an absolute necessity if India is to rapidly scale up its infrastructure. The list of delayed projects is very long, leading to heavy cost over-runs, vitiation of financial calculations, and loss of potential services.

As per estimates, about Rs 52,000 crore worth of projects in the public sector and under public-private partnership models are held up, some for several years. This deters planning for new facilities. The number of clearances required is as much as 40-50, involving different agencies and departments of the Central and State governments. With industry having to take responsibility for movement of files from one department to the other, the pipeline of investments has reduced, and business sentiments are low.

The NIB pertains to projects over a certain threshold of investment. These projects would already have been approved at the Cabinet level with the concurrence of many ministries. As per norms, statutory requirements and time-schedules for clearances from various ministries have been laid out. But getting the administrative procedures completed for projects, which have already been sanctioned by the Cabinet, is no easy task, even for government or public sector.

A dedicated body, comprising high-level ministers and qualified professionals to follow up at every level would greatly encourage fast movement of projects. Moreover, the NIB would go beyond obtaining clearances to ensuring on-time completion as well. This would entail constant monitoring for implementation after all approvals are in place.

Fast-tracking projects

Under the current format, after a project has gone through the bidding process and been successfully handed to an operator, the process of obtaining clearances commences. CII believes that such projects should come bundled with all clearances in place. This would greatly reduce time and costs for operators as well as bring down risks, enabling higher bid valuations. NIB would be able to undertake such a task.

CII has estimated that fast-tracking of some 50 large projects could unlock demand for as many as 100 industry sectors up and down the value chain, including capital goods and intermediate industries which are currently suffering from low orders. It would also spur additional investments, which have come down by about 25 per cent in terms of infra order books. It would help set the foundation for a new cycle of economic growth by adding capacities such as transport, energy, mining, manufacturing and so on.

(The author is Director-General, CII.)

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Published on October 12, 2012
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