The Union Cabinet today deferred decision on setting up National Investment Board (NIB) as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted more inter-ministerial discussions on the proposal. Officials close o the development said that the proposal might come up again next week.
The Prime Minister wanted more discussion to he held on the issue, said a Cabinet Minister who attended the today's meeting.
NIB, proposed as a three-member body chaired by the prime minister, was planned to facilitate quicker implementation of infrastructure projects entailing investment of Rs 1,000 crore. Its ambit could be enlarged to include manufacturing projects above Rs 1,000 crore. Finance Minister P Chidamabram had also said that NIB could also be called Cabinet Committee on Investment.
The proposal faced strong opposition from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). In a letter to the PM in October, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had alleged the proposed NIB would bypass environmental clearances for mega projects’ and only benefit large firms and investors, while having no provision for redressing the concern of affected people. She had also said the proposed board would seriously jeopardise her ministry’s working.
She had said that the proposal seems to have been mooted only for the benefit of large firms and investors, while having no provision for redressing the concerns of affected people.
There are a little over 100 projects, each involving investment of Rs 1,000 crore or more, that have been delayed for various reasons. Also, the investment rate in the economy has been going downwards. The investment rate stood at 34.7% of GDP in 2011-12, the same as the previous year. It is projected to rise to 35.3%. Before the economic crisis of 2007-08, it had stood at 38.1%.
Officials also said that the decision on the New Investment Policy in Urea was also deferred.
The new investment policy for urea was cleared by a group of ministers in February. However, the industry was not very happy, as its suggestions regarding gas prices were not incorporated.
The Fertiliser ministry expects the new urea investment policy would attract a fresh investment of about Rs 35,000 crore to increase domestic production by 8 million tonnes.
In 2008, the government had announced a 'New Investment Policy' to boost urea production, but the scheme failed to attract fresh investment in the sector. India faces shortage of 10 million tonnes of urea, which is met through imports.