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Ministers' panel to review FDI norms

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Dec 5

A GROUP of Ministers (GoM) headed by the Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, will go into the details of streamlining various rules and procedures related to foreign direct investment (FDI). The GoM would also review likely changes in the investment caps in several sectors.

Speaking at the sidelines of a seminar on patents, organised jointly by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Mr Ajay Dua, said that the Cabinet has constituted the GoM on December 1 following a proposal moved by the DIPP.

The decision to set up a GoM to review FDI norms was announced after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on November 17 in which no decision could be taken as some senior Ministers, who are CCEA members, were not present and also because the proposal moved by the DIPP was not precisely formulated.

The other members of the GoM, constituted last week, are the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, the Minister for Commerce and Industries, Mr Kamal Nath, the Minister for Communications and IT, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, and the Minister for Mines, Mr Sis Ram Ola.

The DIPP Secretary, Mr Ajay Dua, told presspersons here today that the GoM would consider FDI in all sectors except retail trading because the Government has not yet taken any decision on FDI in retail.

However, the GoM would consider putting cash and carry wholesale trading under the automatic route instead of the present Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) route.

The GoM would also examine proposals forwarded by the DIPP on increasing FDI caps in exploration and mining of coal, lignite, diamond and precious stones.

Mr Dua also said that the Government might do away with multiple central level permissions for investments that had already received approval from one or the other regulatory authority.

In cases where investments have already being vetted by the Reserve Bank of India or Securities and Exchange Board of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority or other regulators, the Government may consider doing away with procedures that require the proposals to go through the FIPB again, officials said.

The GoM would also be expected take up the issue of FDI in airport, power trading, pipelines and infrastructure related to petroleum and natural gas, relaxing of compulsory disinvestments norms for tea plantations etc during its deliberations, officials said.

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