Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government may set up a new single window investment clearance cell to further improve India's Ease of Doing Business rankings in the global pecking order. The proposal is to have a single contact point for investors for all Centre and state level investment approvals and project clearances. It will be different from the existing state and ministry level 'single window' cells, which may have reduced the requirement for physical interactions, but have not eliminated the existence of multiple touch points.
The proposal, currently being considered by the Commerce Ministry, calls for on-boarding the Centre and states level departments through designated point of contacts. The departments will also have to provide a list of licences and documents to the investment clearance cell and details of the process that needs to be followed in each case.
The approving agencies will have to fix timelines for each approval and deemed approvals. Integration of IT systems will also be a pre-requisite for the formation of such a single window platform.
Currently, Invest India, a not-for-profit joint venture between Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), state governments and chambers of commerce with 37.5 per cent, 11.5 per cent and 51 per cent stake, respectively, has been assigned with the task of providing end-to-end facilitation services to the investor. One of the major challenges before the national investment promotion and facilitation agency was to physically follow up on each investment proposal with respective Centre and state entities without any clarity on the timelines that is required for each approval. Multiple online systems and documentations also slowed down the speed of the response of Invest India.
It is known that Invest India officials themselves have mooted the idea for a structured investment clearance cell that will ensure that an investor submits single application and documentation at one place, receives real time status updates and is clear about the time needed for approval or a deemed approval.
The most common registration requirements at the Centre are spread across the ministries of finance, corporate affairs, home affairs, DPIIT, labour and employment, environment, forest and climate change, housing and urban affairs and Jal Shakti. While exporters will require approvals from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, sector specific approvals will be needed from industries that cater to particular sectors. As the execution agency for programmes such as Make in India, Start Up India, and AGNi (National Technology Commercialisation Programme), Invest India is known to be already facilitating 617 companies with an investment pipeline of $177 billion.
The suggestion for an investment clearance cell, which could even be provided legislative backing if need be, has come from the practical difficulties faced by Invest India while servicing its investor clients.