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Posted on Nov 22, 09:53PM | IANS
The BJP Thursday slammed the Congress-led UPA government on the issue of foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail and demanded a discussion in parliament on the vexed issue under a rule which entails voting.
"The government did not consult other parties on FDI. It is going back on its word of building a consensus on FDI in retail," Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said. He was addressing reporters after a stormy first-day of the winter session of parliament.
Jaitley also questioned the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's assertion that an executive decision (FDI in retail) could not be a subject for debate after the opposition demanded discussion in the Lok Sabha on FDI in retail under a rule which entails voting.
"Why is the government so scared to debate the issue in parliament? There will definitely be a vote on this issue," he remarked.
Jaitley said that the decision for bringing in FDI in retail could prove disastrous for India's economy.
"The stores that come up as a result of this will be owned by Americans and Europeans. The material in them will be Chinese manufactured. Only the salesmen and women would be Indian," said Jaitley.
He also took pot shots on retail-giant Walmart which plans to open stores in India if the move for FDI-in-retail by the government succeeds.
"Some months back, Walmart tried to open stores in Manhattan, New York City but was bitterly opposed and hence did not succeed. If this is the reaction to Walmart in America's largest city, imagine the reaction when Walmart tries to open branches in other cities of the world," said Jaitley.
He also gave the example of Thailand's experience with multi-brand retail. "Thailand opened up to multi-brand retail in 2001. Today, three chains control 45 per cent of the Thai market," he said.
Jaitley also slammed the government's argument that bringing FDI in retail would do away with middle men.
"They say that middle men will be done away with. Let us take the example of milk. In England and America, the profits from the sale of milk products brings maximum profit for the retailer with hardly anything going to the producer. Conversely in India, brands like Amul and Verka ensure that the producer gets the major profit. If we bring in FDI in retail, we will go the way of England and America," he said.
Jaitley said the government's moves such as FDI in retail being done in the name of reform was an anomaly.
"We in India usually accept western definitions of reform. When America acts protectively, we never ask them as to why they do not reform their economies by throwing open their economy to the forces of the free market. We will have to rewrite the definition of reform in our own context," he said.
Jaitley also refused to accept the government's move to let state governments decide individually on FDI in retail. "Investment may be a state subject. But FDI is a central subject," he said.