Fresh hurdle for NIB over its approval powers
There are two views in the government over whether the NIB should have overriding powers of approval of projects in case concerned ministries fail to take a decision within a given timeframe or whether its role should be limited to monitoring only.
Entrusting it with only monitoring powers would virtually render the NIB toothless as the very concept of such a body was necessitated by the fact that projects worth around Rs 2.5 lakh crore are stalled for want of statutory clearances. These investments, largely in infrastructure sectors, are expected not only to boost the economy but also to help the ruling Congress politically by generating lakhs of jobs ahead of the next general elections.
Amid these divergent views about the NIBís mandate, there is another debate in the government over whether the proposed body should be anchored in the existing transaction of business rules or they should be changed to give the NIB an overriding authority to approve projects.
The cabinet secretariat was learnt to have mooted a proposal that instead of changing the rules, the proposed NIB should be replaced by a cabinet committee on investment (CCI) under which there should be a committee of secretaries (CoS) to vet the proposals.
While finance minister P Chidambaram, who had conceived the idea of the NIB,
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