Investment in Industry
20. The government accords high priority to boosting private investment, including foreign investment, in industry. We must minimise bureaucratic and procedural hurdles and create an investor friendly environment. Industrial licensing was abolished in most industrial sectors as part of the economic reforms. On reviewing the remaining handful of licensed sectors, the government have further decided to delicense coal and lignite and petroleum products.
21. Industrial deregulation would remain incomplete without reducing the burdens imposed by the "Inspector Raj". The majority of inspectors operate under State level statutes. Government have initiated a dialogue with the State Governments to explore the consolidation of regulatory legislation relating to industry and exchange of best practices across States in carrying out the necessary inspections in the least burdensome way. I will return to this subject when I present my excise proposals.
22. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has done a good job in promoting foreign investment and streamlining the procedures at the Central government level. Foreign investment flows have increased substantially and were estimated to be $3.1 billion in 1997-98. About 60 per cent of investment approvals are in the energy and infrastructure sectors. It will be our objective to create conditions in which foreign investors will find India an attractive investment destination. We hope to double the inflow of foreign direct investment within two years. Foreign investors are frequently inhibited by lack of familiarity with our systems and statutes and particular problems at the State level. To reduce such problems, we will implement a system whereby, an officer of the administrative Ministry would be designated as a monitoring officer to help processing and implementation of the project in conjunction with Central and State authorities for every foreign investment proposal exceeding Rs.100 crore. We are committed to creating a hassle-free procedure and I would like to assure all foreign investors that a decision on their investment proposals shall be taken within a period of 90 days. It will be the personal responsibility of the monitoring officer to ensure this.
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