The government is likely to take a decision on setting up the National Investment Board (NIB) for single window clearance for large infrastructure projects in the next two to three weeks.
‘For any decision to take place, which has implications for a very large number of ministries, you need to have inter-ministerial discussions and create a consensus, and that process is on. We hope that in another two to three weeks we will have a decision on that,” Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on India.
The government is planning to set up the NIB under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. As concerns have been raised about delays in the implementation of large infrastructure projects, the proposal was mooted by Finance Minister P Chidambaram at the full meeting of the Planning Commission recently.
A Cabinet note in this regard has already been circulated to the ministries concerned. The environment ministry has expressed its reservations on the proposal.
‘Nobody is holding it up. There are discussions happening...there will be questions, people want some clarifications. All that is happening,” Mayaram said.
According to to the Centre for Monitoring the India Economy (CMIE), projects worth Rs 1.8 lakh crore were shelved during the April-August 2012 period, primarily because of problems related to land acquisition, environmental clearances and lack of fuel and mineral linkages.
On the issue of new bank licences, he said, “We are hopeful something should happen this fiscal.”
Asked about the disinvestment programme of the government, the Secretary said the target of raising Rs 30,000 crore would be met, as some companies would hit the markets in the next two months.
‘By the end of this fiscal we should get Rs 30,000 crore. Work has started and issues will begin to come in a while,’ Mayaram said.
The government has not been able to take any issue to the markets so far this year. On Wednesday, it deferred the decision to sell a 12.5 per cent stake sale in Nalco, saying that the company’s second-quarter financial performance was not reflective of its true financial position. Earlier, the public issue of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd was also postponed after the steel ministry said the issue price suggested by the merchant bankers was on the low side.
The finance ministry is planning sell stakes in three public sector enterprises — Hindustan Copper, NMDC and Oil India — by December end, expecting to add Rs 12,000 crore to the government’s revenue kitty.
Mayaram reiterated that the fiscal deficit would not be more than 5.3 per cent of the GDP. But as it is higher than the budgeted 5.1 per cent, the government would be required to borrow an additional Rs 20,000 crore.
“We will assess around February, what our requirement is, if there is any. Although we are hoping not to borrow, in case there is a marginal requirement, that assessment and how much we will borrow will happen only in January-February,” he added.