Home / Politics / News /  A National Single Window System for business approvals on cards

NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi may formally launch on 15 August a National Single Window System (NSWS), a one-stop digital platform where companies can obtain all regulatory approvals.

At least 3,400 central and state-level approvals are already available on the system, and work is underway to add more on a priority, two government officials said on condition of anonymity.

Once completed, the system will serve as a single interface between the government and business, marking a significant step in India’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business.

So far, know your approvals (KYA) module on the system supports information for 32 central ministries and 16 states.

“Work is on in full swing to onboard more ministries and departments. Also, we expect more states to be on board," one of the two government officials cited above said.

The NSWS will help businesses leverage the government’s marquee schemes such as the 1.97 trillion production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, 111 trillion National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) and 6 trillion National Monetization Pipeline (NMP).

NSWS has been designed to prioritize the needs of investors and businesses, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) said in a statement to Mint.

“DPIIT, through Invest India, initiated the process of developing the portal as an NSWS, which will provide a single platform to help identify and obtain approvals and clearances needed by investors, entrepreneurs, and businesses in India. The system is envisioned to build enhanced services by leveraging common architecture rather than creating multiple platforms to increase user experience."

The Union budget 2020-21 had proposed an Investment Clearance Cell to eliminate the need for investors to visit multiple platforms and offices to gather information and obtain clearances, after which DPIIT and Invest India began building the portal. A beta version of the system was soft-launched in September by Piyush Goyal, minister for commerce and industry, textiles, and consumer affairs, food and public distribution.

“Currently, investors can apply for approvals from 21 central ministries/departments, and 14 states/union territories," the DPIIT statement said.

“The portal will progressively onboard a greater number of approvals and licences, based on user/industry feedback. The government is committed to reforms and other bold measures for creating a conducive business and investment environment in all sectors. Having rapidly bounced back from covid slowdown, India is now emerging among the world’s fastest growing economies this year. A national single window, therefore, is a much-needed step in the right direction which would definitely increase India’s ranking on Ease of Doing business index," the DPIIT statement added.

Queries emailed to a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office on late Tuesday night remained unanswered till press time.

Economists said the move would help attract foreign direct investment (FDI) at a time many global companies are considering a “China Plus One" strategy.

“A lot of streamlining is going to happen and it is much needed. A national single window system could boost investments. And FDI will be coming into sectors that have potential. So, even if the FDI is concentrated in a few sectors, if the reform works, there is a potential that it would trickle down to other sectors. We will have to see what impact it creates," said Upasna Bhardwaj, senior economist at Kotak Mahindra Bank.

“If an investor can get approval from one place, instead of moving from one ministry to another, it is a step in the positive direction and will streamline the approval process. But the list of ministries onboard should be exhaustive. For this kind of reform to work, RBI should also be a part of it because several FDI investments need RBI’s clearance," added Devendra Pant, chief economist at India Ratings.

India clocked the highest FDI of $81.97 billion in 2020-21. Also, FDI grew 4% in the first six months of last fiscal to touch $42.86 billion. India has recorded $339.55 in FDI over the last five financial years.

“Extensive consultations were held with central departments and states, especially the ones with effective single window systems. Furthermore, talks were undertaken with industry associations, professional bodies, and legal firms to understand the expectations from the envisioned single window system. Each ministry undertook an extensive review and validation exercise to ensure all relevant approvals and registrations were covered in the scope of the NSWS," the DPIIT statement said.

“Know your approval module (KYA) is a dynamic, intelligent questionnaire which has been built in NSWS incorporating the various variables of the investors like sector, investment size, entity type, etc. The module provides an indicative list of both central and state approvals required based on specific inputs by investors," the DPIIT statement said.


Utpal Bhaskar

"Utpal Bhaskar leads Mint's policy and economy coverage. He is part of Mint’s launch team, which he joined as a staff writer in 2006. Widely cited by authors and think-tanks, he has reported extensively on the intersection of India’s policy, polity and corporate space.
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