Ministry fast-tracks security clearance for overseas investment proposals

Among foreign countries, the maximum investment proposals in critical sectors like telecom and defence that was cleared by the Home Ministry in 2017, were from China, United Kingdom, U.S. and Mauritius.

The Ministry said it has given security clearance to more than 5,000 investment proposals, including for Foreign Direct Investment, in the last four years.

A senior Ministry official said that earlier the time taken for security clearance for a project was eight-nine months on an average. This has been brought down to 40 days since last year.

The Ministry had formulated a new national security clearance policy in 2015 after the government decided to speed up projects, which were stuck for lack of approval by Intelligence Bureau (IB) or other agencies including the State police.

15 parameters

The policy has 15 parameters on which inputs from security agencies are sought. Once it has got an application from an investor, the Ministry decides on the status of security clearance to the company within 4-6 weeks.

The Ministry granted security clearance to 815 investment proposals in 2014, 1,201 proposals in 2015 and 1,260 in 2016, an official said.

In 2017, security clearances were given to around 1,071 proposals, he said. In addition, 543 proposals were automatically cleared in 2015 due to implementation of the revised policy guidelines.

Of these proposals, 390 pertained to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 235 related to civil aviation and 46 FDI proposals.

Among the foreign countries, U.S., China (including Hong Kong), Mauritius, U.K. has received the green signal for the maximum number of projects at 10 each, followed by Germany 6, Bangladesh 3 and two each for Italy, Israel, Netherlands and Switzerland.

A spokesperson for the Ministry said: “We have been clearing proposals for security clearance as it comes after due diligence.We only seek relevant information and the emphasis is always to give security clearance as quickly as possible.”

The objective is to evaluate potential threats, visible or embedded, in proposals received by the Ministry and to provide a national risk assessment, another official said.

The Ministry has defined security rating parameters to evaluate the proposals uniformly.

The national policy was drawn up by the Ministry to fast-track the security clearance process and complete it within 4-6 weeks upon receiving the application as part of the government’s ease-of-doing-business and Make In India initiative.

As per the policy, the promoters, owners and directors of the company are mandated to give self declarations regarding any criminal history on their part, which reduced the period required to give security clearance from 2-3 months earlier to to just 4-6 weeks now.

Security inputs from the Intelligence Bureau, the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate and other agencies are sought only in cases of serious crimes and not in case of minor offences.

At present, only 11 sectors, including defence and retail trading, require government approval for foreign direct investment. Over 90% of FDI proposals have come through the automatic route.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 4:01:15 PM |

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