Projects worth up to US$100m can now be approved Beijing has moved to further delegate control over the approval of foreign investment by raising the ceiling of projects that can be approved by local authorities from US$30 million to as much as US$100 million in some categories. A spokesman from the National Development and Reform Commission said yesterday that the new measures were included in a temporary regulation that was issued last month. The regulation allows local authorities to approve projects worth up to US$100 million in investment categories classified as 'encouraged' and 'allowed' by the Catalogue Guiding Foreign Investment in Industries promulgated by the central government. The catalogue sets out the government's policy towards investments in different sectors, classified as 'encouraged', 'allowed', 'restricted' and 'forbidden'. In the past, local authorities were limited to approving 'encouraged' projects with values of up to US$30 million. In the case of projects classified as 'restricted' in the catalogue, local authorities can approve projects worth up to US$50 million, also increased from a former limit of US$30 million. The spokesman said that local planning commissions would be empowered to decide whether to further delegate approval powers to lower authorities for projects in the 'encouraged' and 'allowed' categories. 'The powers of local authorities have been expanded and spelt out in much clearer terms,' he was quoted as saying by the official China News Service. The spokesman also noted that only approval documents issued by the development and reform commission would be recognised as the legal basis for government approval of foreign investment projects. No other government departments, such as land or town planning agencies or quality and safety supervisory bodies, would be allowed to process applications for projects that lacked government approval, he said. In addition to the decentralisation of power, the regulation seeks to simplify and speed up approval for projects of foreign investors. The National Development and Reform Commission is required to issue approval or submit recommendations to the State Council within 20 working days from the receipt of proposals for projects that require approval from higher authorities, according to the regulation. It says a 10-day extension of the approval deadline will be allowed. In another move to streamline the procedures, the regulation requires investors to submit only a project application report, instead of a proposal in conjunction with a feasibility study, as required in the past. The spokesman said the regulation would improve the environment for overseas investors. 'It will further extend the [liberalisation policy] and promote foreign investments, in addition to enhancing the healthy, stable and balanced growth of the national economy,' he said.