NIB likely in Cabinet today

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 05, 2012 21:51 hrs

The Cabinet is likely to decide on setting up a National Investment Board (NIB) at a meeting scheduled tomorrow.

The panel of senior ministers could also take up the proposals on a new investment policy for urea and continuation of additional compensation to indigenous manufacturers of potash and phosphorus, sources said. A proposal to extend the stock-holding limit on rice for a few more months could also come for discussion.

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.

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. The proposal faced strong opposition from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF).

Those in the know said the name of the body could be changed to some cabinet committee such as Cabinet Committee on Investment.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in October, MoEF 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.

There are a little over 100 projects, each involving investment of Rs 1,000 crore or more, that have been delayed for various reasons.

The economy is already witnessing low investment rates, because of which the signs of recovery do not seem too promising. The investment rate stood at 34.7 per cent of GDP in 2011-12, the same as the previous year. It is projected to rise to 35.3 per cent. Before the economic crisis of 2007-08, it had stood at 38.1 per cent. In the second quarter, there was a glimmer of hope in the GDP data. The fixed investment rate grew by 4.06 per cent against 0.66 per cent in the first quarter.

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