Mamata says no to FDI in retail

TMC leader meets PM, PC to convey displeasure

Trinamool Congress president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday made it clear that she will continue to oppose the foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.

Banerjee is understood to have conveyed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram that she will not only continue to oppose the proposed raising of FDI cap in retail from 26 to 49 per cent in insurance sector and FDI in airlines, but also extract a price for her party’s continued support to the beleagured UPA government.

“We are not in favour of FDI in retail and all this (insurance)... and pension sectors. We are not in favour of FDI in aviation also. We are always in favour of common people,” Banerjee told journalists after a meeting with Chidambaram.

“In our election manifesto what we raised, we will stick to it ... Other countries all over the  world are also saying that if they allow FDI in retail, then workers will die... So we are not in favour of it,” she added.

During her meeting with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, the West Bengal Chief Minister also repeated her demand for a three-year moratorium on the interests of the debts of her state.

Though both Singh and Chidambaram told her that it might be difficult to accept her demand, the Centre might consider working out a package to bail out the cash-strapped Bengal government.

Sources said the Congress top brass is keen on ensuing that TMC does not add to the woes of the Government at a time, when it was under attack from the Opposition over the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on coal block allocations between 2006 and 2009.

Sources said that West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra is likely to visit Delhi to meet Chidambaram and discuss an economic package for the Bengal government.

Banerjee also raised the issue of high fertiliser prices and poor conditions of national highways in her discussion with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.

“We have to take some serious decision so that farmers do not suffer. I did not talk about higher subsidy... In our state, farmers are poor. What Punjab can afford, Bengal can’t afford. So we cannot afford imported fertiliser,” she told journalists.

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