Most of the investment proposals in critical sectors such as telecom and defence cleared by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2017 were from China, the UK, the US and Mauritius, said officials.
The ministry said it has given security clearance to over 5,000 investment proposals, including foreign direct investments, in the past four years. A senior home ministry official said that earlier, the time taken for security clearance for a project was eight-nine months on an average, it has now been brought down to 40 days since last year.
The MHA had formulated a new National Security Clearance Policy in 2015 after the government decided to speed up projects, which were stuck due to want of security clearance by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) or other agencies, including police. The policy has 15 parametres 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 home ministry granted security clearance to 815 investment proposals in 2014, 1,201 proposals in 2015 and 1,260 in 2016, a home ministry official said. In 2017, security clearances were given to around 1,071 proposals, the official 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, the US, China (including Hong Kong), Mauritius and the UK has received green signal for the highest number of projects (10 each), followed by Germany (6), Bangladesh (3) and two each for Italy, Israel, Netherlands and Switzerland. A home ministry spokesperson 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 on to give security clearance as quickly as possible.”
Currently, only 11 sectors, including defence and retail trading, require government approval for foreign direct investment.