In an reply to a query under the Right to Information Act , the Union ministry of commerce and industry has admitted that it has no "specific information to furnish" regarding the Union government's claim in a newspaper advertisement that foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail would create over one crore jobs and that 50% of the total foreign investment would be in villages.
A Bhopal-based advocate, NK Jain, had filed a RTI application with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry seeking information as to on what basis the government of India issued a full-page advertisement in national newspapers on September 21 making the above-mentioned claims.
In a reply on November 6 (copy with HT), the director and central public information officer of the department of industrial policy and promotion (Ministry of Commerce and Industry), Deepak Narain said that the "division does not have any specific information to furnish" in respect to the queries of the applicant "beyond the information covered under Press Notes" issued by the department on September 20.
The advertisement titled 'Foreign Direct Investment in Retail' stated that "at least 50% of total foreign investment will be in villages" and "over 1 crore new jobs will be created."
Jain had in his RTI application dated October 4, 2012 sought details on "the procedure that the government intends to follow for monitoring that at least 50% investment will be in villages." He also sought copy of the estimates/calculation sheet/documents according to which the government has arrived at the figure that over one crore new jobs will be created through FDI in retail, and the "name of the agency/official that will monitor creation of new jobs."
"It is clear from the reply of the department that it does not have any basis to make the above-mentioned claims in public. It amounts to an attempt at misleading the people of India and is a serious misdeed and an illegal action," Jain said while speaking to HT on Thursday.
The press releases that public information officer referred to in his reply, simply states: "In respect of proposals involving FDI beyond 51%, sourcing of 30% of the value of goods purchased, will be done from India, preferably from MSMEs, village and cottage industries, artisans and craftsmen, in all sectors".
The advocate has now written to the department to withdraw the claims. He plans to take the case to court if the Union government fails to issue a retraction as demanded by him.