By Sanjay Jog
Amidt the Centre’s move to hold back the foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday reiterated his support saying that that the Cabinet decision to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail and 100% in single-brand retail would in fact benefit the farmers and consumers. He said the foreign super markets are entitled to invest in cities having population of one million and above.
Pawar, after taking a review of the scarcity situation in his Madha constituency in Solapur district, told Business Standard, “Farmers and consumers will be beneficiary of the FDI in retail.”
He contested opposition’s charge that FDI in retail would adversely impact the kirana shops, especially in the rural areas, and reminded that FDI in retail would come in towns with population of one million and above.
Pawar’s statement comes at a time when Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday told the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and CPM member of Parliament Sitaram Yechuri that the government has put on hold its decision on FDI in retail till a consensus is reached among all political parties.
Mukherjee has accepted the Opposition’s demand to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.
When asked to comment on these latest developments, Pawar said, “I am not fully aware of what is happening as I am travelling outside New Delhi. I have not spoken to anybody in the government so far but came to know after reading news that finance minister will make a statement on FDI in retail in Parliament on Wednesday.”
Earlier, Pawar said that notwithstanding different views on FDI in retail within his party, the Nationalist Congress Party, when the issue came up before the Cabinet the party being a key ally of United Progressive Alliance has supported it.