‘Retail FDI policy distinct, has Indian signature’

Unfazed by a storm of protests over allowing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, the Centre today said the new policy is "distinct and different" and interest of small retailers has been taken into consideration.

"The FDI policy is distinct and different and has the Indian signature," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters here.

The interest and sensitivities of small retailers have been taken into consideration and "they are part of the policy embrace", he said when asked whether the government would take steps to allay fears over the measure, which has drawn sharp reactions from the political parties and retailers.

Sharma said the political parties would "certainly realise" the benefits of the government's bold move, and added that such opposition was common.

He recalled that previous Congress governments led by the late Rajiv Gandhi and late P V Narasimha Rao had gone ahead with reforms in IT and communication and economy, only to reap benefits now.

The minister said the government has not rushed the FDI policy and it took one year and 10 days before it reached a committee of secretaries, after intense consultations with states, retailers, industries and farm associations and other stake-holders.

The government came under a sharp attack in Parliament over its decision to open the multi-brand retail to foreign investment.

Sharma insisted that the decision on FDI was not an "overnight policy" and said no policy rollout would be without opposition and criticism. He added that a sincere effort had been put in to take on board concerns of all stakeholders.

Claiming that the decision would help farmers and consumers alike, he said peasants were not getting remunerative price for their produce.

The policy envisages to bring down post-harvest losses and aims to create better rural infrastructure like cold storages, Sharma said.

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