New Delhi: The Cabinet on Wednesday approved liberalization of foreign investment norms for the non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), in yet another measure aimed at improving the ease of doing business.

Foreign investment in NBFCs can now come under the automatic route provided they are regulated by any of the financial sector regulators. But entities not regulated by any of the regulators will need approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The Cabinet also did away with minimum capital requirements, saying that such requirements are already imposed by regulators.

At present, only investments in 18 specified NBFC activities are permitted under the automatic route. Finance minister Arun Jaitley announced in his budget speech this year that foreign investment in other activities will also be put under the automatic route.

In an effort to make coal-based power less polluting, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved research and development (R&D) project on advanced ultra super critical technology for thermal power plants.

The project will enable Indian industries to design, manufacture and commission higher efficiency coal-fired power plants with indigenously developed technology, the government said in a statement.

The estimated cost of the project is 1,554 crore and a one-time budgetary support of 900 crore will be provided to BHEL spread over three years.

This will be the first time large power plant equipment will be manufactured with advanced technologies, but without any technological collaboration/licensing agreement with foreign companies.

The cabinet also gave its nod to the introduction of pension and post-retirement medical schemes as part of superannuation benefits for employees of the Food Corporation of India.

The cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to the introduction of Lokpal Bill 2016 in an attempt to amend Section 44 of The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and address concerns expressed by public servants.

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