'FDI will benefit 100 crore people, decision taken in national interest': Ashwani Kumar
Asserting that foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail will benefit over 100 crore people, Union Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar on Thursday said the Congress-led UPA Government is doing exactly what the people of the country expect it to do.
Kumar said there are very good reasons for the government's decision to allow FDI in the retail sector.
"We thought if we were to go ahead with FDI in multi-brand retail, we would be able to enlist significant amount of investment in backend infrastructure. That is why when we made the policy, we said 50 percent of the minimum investment of 100 million dollars, will be done in such activities," said Kumar, while debating the FDI issue in the Rajya Sabha.
"There are moments in a life of a nation where certain decision are taken - we did what is right by our conscience. Because you may be proved wrong at a later point in time, it is no reason not to take bold decisions," he added.
Kumar said the government spoke to most of the farmers' unions, who supported FDI in retail.
"30 percent of all products procured by these chains should be from medium and small scale enterprises - this will exponentially expand the country's production base," said Kumar.
"There has been a lot of talk about WalMart and China. WalMart went to China and the farmers there were benefited. Consumers will also benefit from FDI. They will have a wide range of products to choose from," he added.
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader V. Maitreyan, who moved the motion for debate on FDI in multi-brand retail in the Rajya Sabha earlier, demanded the government to rollback its decision.
"Dr. Manmohan Singh opposed FDI when he was in opposition, today he is the prime mover. UPA chairperson was also opposed to FDI in retail when UPA I was in power," said Maitreyan.
"If FDI is so beneficial, why is it limited to 53 cities? Why isn't it extended to rural brethren? The answer is obvious, the MNCs are not interested in our rural markets," he added.
The Rajya Sabha is debating FDI in retail under Rule 168, which entails voting.
The UPA Government, which won the vote on motion against FDI in multi-brand retail in the Lok Sabha yesterday, is hoping that the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will bail it out for the numbers are not in its favour in the Rajya Sabha.
The motion brought by the opposition was defeated by a margin of 35 votes as 218 members voted in favour of the motion while 253 against it
Members of SP and BSP, with respective strengths of 22 and 21, did not participate in the voting yesterday as they walked out alleging that interests of farmers and small retailers had been ignored.