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Montek calls opposition to FDI

With the Parliament stalled over a week over Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, planning commissioner deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia accused the opposition of trying to create a "political opportunity" not grounded in "sound economy". Chetan Chauhan reports.

business Updated: Dec 01, 2011 17:32 IST
Chetan Chauhan

With the Parliament stalled over a week over Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, planning commissioner deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia accused the opposition of trying to create a "political opportunity" not grounded in "sound economy".

For him, FDI in multi-retail brand will act as a stimulus to modernisation of food chain and will benefit consumers, who will get produce at lesser price and farmers, who will get more money. This, according to him, will happen with wiping out of agents at all levels in the entire food chain.

The plan panel deputy chairperson also said modernisation was important considering increasing demand especially in perishable goods such a meat, fish, vegetables and fruits where there is lot of waste because India lacks cold storage facilities.

Although economists across the board have supported FDI in multi-brand retail, the opposition is not convinced and has prevented the Parliament from functioning for over a week. And, the BJP has taken a lead in opposing the Union Cabinet's decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.

Ahluwalia, who rarely speaks on political issues, expressed surprise at the BJP's opposition to FDI stand after introducing it in 2002, when they were in the government.

"I am amazed to hear that opposition claims that 2011 is not the right time to allow FDI in multi-brand time. In my view it is better than 2002 as economy has expanded and there is need for modernisation of food chain more than that in 2002," he told HT in an exclusive interview.

He accused the opposition of trying to fool public by stalling the Parliament and said every country in the world has benefitted from FDI in multi-brand retail.

He also took the BJP to task for claiming that small retailers would be hit adversely. "They (BJP) sadely didn't discover the fear of retailers in 2002," he said, adding that in expanding economy modernisation helps even small retailers.

"We should not have taxis and should have allowed only cycle rickshaws to run," was his counter on BJP claim on impact of FDI in multi-brand retail on small retailers.

Ahluwalia advised the oppposition to let Parliament run, where pros and corns of the issue can be debated in detail and not to seek an adjournment motion on every issue unde the sun. "Seeking vote on every issue is contrary to Parliamentary precedent," he said.