Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman says no to FDI in multi-brand retail

BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman, who took over as the commerce minister on Tuesday, put a big question mark on the future of foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail by saying it is best not opened now.

This risks turning upside down the liberalisation in the sector initiated by the previous Congress-led UPA government which allowed FDI in multi-brand retail with some riders. Post that British retail giant Tesco had also struck a deal to buy a stake in Tata’s hypermarket unit.

BJP had been opposed to opening of the sector but the party had sent signals that it may not overturn the previous relaxation in attracting foreign investment in the sector.

Speaking to media persons after taking over as the minister of state with independent charge of the commerce ministry, she said, “(FDI in multi-brand retail is) not best opened up now because the way in which medium and small sized traders or small farmers have not been adequately empowered… that immediately if you open up the floodgates of FDI in multi-brand retail, it may affect them.”

She, however, did not provide details on how she plans to execute the guising thought given that FDI in the sector is already allowed.

On the issue of FDI at large she said that there will not be a “blanket approach” for every sector, and that each and every sector would be looked in a “very, very calibrated fashion”.

She said that as the commerce minister she will work to improve on Indian exports and ensure that job opportunities emerge. “Because that’s a very important plank on which we have contested the recent elections. The economic situation in this country demands that more jobs be provided for the young, talented, well-educated and even the semi-skilled and unskilled people of India,” she said.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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