Fast track approval for PSUs'' overseas investment on anvil

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New Delhi, Feb 4 (PTI) The government is mulling over afast track approval of PSUs'' proposals for acquisition ofnatural resources like oil, coal and mines overseas, withoutgoing to the Cabinet, a top official said.

An empowered committee headed by Cabinet Secretary K MChandrasekhar will be put in place for clearing the PSUs''projects for acquisitions of strategic assets abroad,Secretary in the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE)Bhaskar Chatterjee told PTI.

"Secretaries of the administrative ministry (in charge)of PSU, its Chairman and Managing Director and representativesof ministries of external affairs, law and finance will be onthe empowered committee," he said.

Chatterjee said that once the fast track mechanism is inplace, the government-owned companies, particularly in thestrategic areas of coal, oil and mines will be able to seekapproval for investment abroad directly from the high-poweredcommittee within three weeks.

"They will take the proposals directly to this committee.

They don''t have to go through the process of referring theirproposals to the ministry," he said, adding that under thepresent dispensation it may take up to six months for theapproval.

He said, the proposal for setting up of the empoweredcommittee would soon be taken to Heavy Industries and PublicEnterprises Minister Praful Patel.

The mechanism, to be approved by the Cabinet, is likelyto be in place in the next three to four weeks, Chatterjeeadded.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said on December 15that the government is working on a policy to encourage thepublic sector units to scout for raw material strategic assetsabroad.

The move is aimed at fighting competition from theneighbouring country China. Besides, it would help inproviding a cushion to the PSUs to fight competition, posed byprivate companies in India looking at similar opportunitiesoverseas.

World''s largest coal producer Coal India is also in talkswith the US-based Peabody Energy and Massey Energy for stakesin the mines owned by these companies.

State-run steel major SAIL along with NTPC, Coal India,Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) is also scouting for coalmines in Australia and other coal-rich nations by forming ajoint venture company -- International Coal Ventures Ltd. PTIRK PC SHT

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