THAT CHIDAMBARAM PERE ET FILS are in hot water because of misuse and manipulation of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), constituted by the Congress government at the Centre in 1991, is hardly a surprise. In 2005, a chance meeting with American philanthropist-educationist Lowell Milken resulted in the latter expressing interest in investing in this then faltering publication.
To clear a modest ($260,000) foreign investment proposal, FIBP took a full year and that too after daily calls to the secretary of the board. According to this worthy, clearing this proposal was a very difficult proposition because the members of FIPB were several secretaries of departments of the finance ministry — “all very busy people” — and not easily available for making this recommendation to the even busier finance minister.
Meanwhile, a consultant who had mysteriously got wind of the investment proposal, rang your editor and offered his expert advice on ways and means to expedite clearance of the investment, an offer which was politely declined. Finally, only after your correspondent threatened to expose this unconscionable delay of FIPB in the media was the investment cleared.
Quite clearly, FIPB was invented by the neta-babu brotherhood as another toll gate to get a slice of funding raised by entrepreneurs who have to resort to raising finance abroad, because indigenous banks and financial institutions are sucked dry by the neta-babu brotherhood and their cronies. FIPB was abolished by the BJP-led NDA government and all foreign investment has to be cleared by the Union cabinet. Now the de rigueur slice will be taken at the top. Nevertheless one can’t help experiencing a bit of schadenfreude that Chidambaram is hoist with his own petard.