Decision on FDI was based on consensus, says govt

Decision on FDI was based on consensus, says govt

The Government on Friday claimed that its decision to allow 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail was based on ‘consensus’ and stated that it would have taken long had it waited for an ‘unanimity’ on the move. 

“Let us not confuse consensus with unanimity. For unanimity we will have to wait in eternity. This (today's decision) has consensus,” Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told journalists, after announcing the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to implement the Government’s November 2011 decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail.

He was replying to a question if all the constituents of the ruling United Progressive Alliance was taken on board before the CCEA took the decision.

While opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and leftist parties strongly protested against the Government’s decision on FDI in retail, the Congress’ troubled ally Trinamool Congress threatened to take a tough call on continuing in the UPA next Tuesday. 

Sharma said that the Centre had consulted all stakeholders, including the State Governments and traders’ organizations, over the past 10 months ever since the decision had been kept in abeyance in December 2011 following uproar by the Opposition as well as the constituents and allies of the ruling United Progressive Alliance.
The Commerce Minister added that he had discussed the issue with Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee several times.

“It is her prerogative to implement or not. It is equally our prerogative to enable governments of other States to implement it,” said Sharma, noting that the Centre had left it to the State Governments to decide whether or not to allow foreign capital in the retail sector. “The Government on Friday claimed that the eights States including Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttrakhand, Haryana and Manipur had supported the proposal to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, while Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and Odisha had expressed reservations.

He said that the States that produced large quantities of fruits and vegetables had wanted more FDI in the retail sector to help farmers, who suffered huge losses due to lack of post-harvest infrastructure.

Commerce Minister pointed out that the foreign retailers seeking to enter the multi-brand segment of the country would have to invest a minimum of USD 100 million with 50 per cent of it in rural areas.

The main opposition party - BJP along with Left denounced government decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand sector and termed it a "betrayal" of people's interests. D Raja, leader of Communist Party of India said such decisions are an attempt by a corruption-tained regime to salvage its image.

Danish Ali, spokesperson of Janata Dal (Secular), which is an outside supporter of the UPA government said that the party was opposed to opening retail sector to foreign investors and it will rethink over continuing support to the Union government.

“We are totally opposed to allowing FDI in retail sector. We have convened a meeting of party’s national executive to rethink over extending support to the UPA government because we don’t want to be a party to the anti-people policies,” Ali told Deccan Herald.