New Delhi, July 19: With the presidential polls over, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh kicked off a major initiative to reform the economy ' a new board for a single-window clearance of large energy and infrastructure projects.
Finance ministry officials saw the move as part of an effort to cut red tape and encourage free decision making.
The Project Clearance Board, to be chaired by the cabinet secretary, has been set up after top industrialists complained about the delay in getting clearances for major projects, which often get caught in disputes between the environmental lobby and industry.
"The Project Clearance Board along the lines of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board will be set up under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary for the review and issue of one-time clearances, including security clearance," a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said.
The decision to set up the board was taken as there is "a need to have an institutionalised mechanism for issuing clearances in a time-bound manner," the PMO said.
Security concerns have also been a major hurdle to investments, with a cautious home ministry often ruling out proposals from China and neighbouring countries hit by terrorist activities.
In a twitter comment, Tata group head Ratan Tata today came out in support of the Prime Minister, saying, "It's wrong to single out the PM for inflation, low investment confidence and slow growth.
Since the Prime Minister took over the finance minister's portfolio from Pranab Mukherjee in June, the government has been widely expected to usher in a second wave of reforms, such as allowing FDI in retail, raising the foreign investment cap in insurance and cutting fuel subsidies.
The new board will meet every month to review the status of clearances to energy and infrastructure projects. It will include representatives from the ministries of home, defence, environment, commerce, coal and other infrastructure and energy related departments.
A senior-level panel was considered necessary in the wake of slow progress in as many as 70 oil exploration projects. It was found that ports and infrastructure projects were also facing similar problems and getting delayed.