NEW DELHI: Virtually rejecting demands from within the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and outside for rollback of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh Tuesday justified the decision as a well-considered move and attacked the Opposition for not allowing the Parliament to function.
He said there was no compulsion on states to implement the decision of the Union cabinet with regard to allowing 51 per cent FDI in retail and there were options available to them for not implementing.
Dr Singh insisted that the decision to allow FDI in retail was aimed at creating jobs, improving remuneration of farmers and enabling import of technology besides benefitting consumers. “I would .. Like to a mention today of the decision of the government permitting Foreign Direct Investment in Retail. We have not taken this decision in any haste but after a lot of consideration. It is our firm conviction that the decision will benefit our country,” the Prime Minister said while addressing the Youth Congress convention here.
He defended the decision taken last week even as the Parliament was paralysed for the third day on the issue with Opposition, joined by UPA constituents Trinamool Congress and DMK, being unrelenting on the demand for its reversal. Voices of opposition have emerged from within Congress also.
“We believe that it will bring modern technology to the country, improve rural infrastructure, reduce wastage of agricultural produce and enable our farmers to get better prices for their crops,” Dr Singh said, virtually ruling out any reversal of the decision.
Justifying the decision, Dr Singh said the differential that exists between wholesale and retail prices will reduce and consumers will get commodities of daily use at reduced prices. “As far as small retailers are concerned, the experience in some other countries suggests that both big and small retailers can easily co-exist in a big country like ours,” he said.
On the fears that the small businesses in the country would be hurt by the FDI decision, the Prime Minister said, “We have put some conditions so that FDI in retail promotes our small industry.” Most importantly, he said, “We are not forcing anyone to follow this policy. State governments that are not convinced of its usefulness have the means to prevent foreign participation in retail businesses in their states.”
He said FDI in retail will result in creation of many new employment opportunities in a range of sectors like food processing, transportation and storage. “I would urge all of you to inform the people correctly on the issue,” he told the Youth Congress workers.