Agency to facilitate projects on anvil

Agency to facilitate projects on anvil

Govt bid to boost investor confidence

Agency to facilitate projects on anvil

In a key decision aimed at boosting investors’ confidence, the government on Thursday decided to constitute a high-powered Project Clearance Board (PCB) to ensure speedy one-time approval, including security clearance, in energy and infrastructure sectors.

To be headed by the cabinet secretary, the PCB will virtually act as a single-window clearance agency. It would be set up along the lines of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) which clears foreign investments. The PCB will include representatives from the Ministries of Home, Defence, Environment & Forests, Commerce, Coal, Department of Space and other infrastructure and energy-related Ministries/ Departments.  

The decision, which comes in the backdrop of delays several projects were facing in the two sectors, was taken at a meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) while reviewing the status of clearances of oil and gas blocks awarded under the New Exploration Licencing Policy (NELP).

The decision is being seen as one of the major moves coming from the PMO after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took over the finance ministry from Pranab Mukherjee, UPA’s Presidential nominee, about three weeks ago. The move is expected to give a fillip to encourage business environment. It also comes in the backdrop of several projects, including 70 in oil and natural gas sector, facing delays because of lack of necessary clearances.

The PMO said the PCB will meet regularly on a monthly basis to review the status of clearances for the two sectors and expedite issuing of security and other clearances.

Ministries would report to this Board the status of issuing of clearances after following their internal due diligence processes.

For the petroleum and natural gas sector, the special cell for clearances being set up in the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons will act as the secretariat. A common mechanism for all sectors will be evolved soon and the Board will be set up in the coming weeks.

The PMO noted: “One of the biggest hurdles to speedy implementation of projects is the delays faced by project implementing agencies and private firms with concessions, in obtaining security related clearances from many agencies. For example, progress in exploration work in over 70 oil blocks awarded under the NELP has slowed down due to lack of clearances. There are similar problems in other areas such as ports and infrastructure sectors,” the release added.

It cited the need to have an institutionalised mechanism for issuing clearances in a time-bound manner and noted that the FIPB holds regular meetings to give clearances of foreign investment proposals regular meetings. “A need for a similar mechanism was felt for other clearances so that the issue of delayed clearances is resolved.”

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