'Govt set to face music over retail FDI'
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The government on Tuesday sought to downplay the threat to the ruling coalition's stability even in the face of a no-confidence motion over its recent decision to allow controlling foreign stake in supermarkets, saying it is fully prepared to meet the situation when opposition parties bring the matter to the Parliament.
"It is the job of the opposition to oppose. Let them bring the matter to the parliament. The government is fully prepared," said commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma, who was accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his return to New Delhi from the ASEAN and East Asia summits in Phnom Penh.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamta Banerjee is preparing for a no-confidence motion over the decision to allow 51% FDI in the multi-brand retail sector and 49% FDI in insurance and pension sectors. Left parties too have sought discussion in both houses of the Parliament under sections that require voting, while BJP is exploring the possibility of a no-confidence motion. In the meanwhile, the ruling coalition member DMK has said it is not in favour of the 51% FDI in multi-brand retail, raising speculation about an early election.
Sharma told reporters that dissenting parliamentarians can only move amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) but cannot insist on voting on executive decisions taken under it. When the decision to raise the limit of foreign ownership in multi-brand retail, insurance and pension was taken, the House was not in session. The government therefore, will place a notification on the decision under FEMA when it convenes on Thursday as the law gives it time till 30 sittings of the Parliament.
Sharma said the government was still hopeful of convincing the allies about the usefulness of relaxing the foreign investment norms while remaining confident and fully ready to deal with the situation. "There could be differences of opinion on a particular matter. But looking at the need for the country's development, stability is an imperative. No doubt, all our allies are clear on that. It should not be misconstrued as a situation pregnant with instability," Sharma said. Sharma said he was sure the parties that supported the UPA will continue to do so when it comes to the larger interest of the country.
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