Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Saturday hailed the cabinet decision to liberalise foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail trade by terming it as a bold initiative.
Hooda said the decision would benefit the state. "This would help all stakeholders and attract investment in Haryana. Farmers will greatly benefit from direct purchase of their produce by retail chains," he said.
The Haryana CM lauded the "adequate safeguards" that had been kept in the FDI policy to safeguard the interest of small retailers. "Liberalisation would benefit the consumers and purchasers against seasonal fluctuations and aberration in prices of agricultural products," he said.
The chief minister spoke on legislations introduced by the state to facilitate FDI. "The state government has already introduced a provision in the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act to facilitate introduction of supply chain and to develop network of agri-produce collection centers," he said.
The investment in the back-end infrastructure would not only fetch better prices for farmers, but also benefit rural economy and generate employment in rural areas.
The chief minister said investment in organized retail trade by foreign investors would also bring in the latest technology in establishment of cold chains, preventing wastage of food due to lack of post-harvest infrastructure.
INLD, BJP slam FDI move
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Kisan Morcha on Saturday came out in strong opposition of the cabinet decision to liberalise foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.
While INLD chief and former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala said it would ruin smalltime traders, BJP Kisan Morcha national president Om Prakash Dhankar termed it as "against national interest."
Dhankar said the party would oppose the economic "reform" in all states of the country.
Dhankar, who was addressing a workshop in Karnal, said the decision would hit smalltime traders. "The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is chalking policies to benefit the capitalist forces of the world. How will the country develop when more than four crore Indian traders and their families would loose businesses to the big retail chains owned by foreigners," he said.
He went on to say that the party would apart from opposing FDI in BJP-ruled states, also oppose it in other states.
Badal opposes FDI in state
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday opposed the foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.
While talking to reporters here after inaugurating the national executive committee meeting of All India Council of Mayors here, Badal said the stand of the Shiromani Akali Dal was clear and they were firm on the resolution passed earlier by the SAD core committee that the party vehemently opposed the FDI and expressed solidarity with the NDA on the issue.
"We will not allow the FDI in retail in our state. It is currently not in the interest of the people, especially small traders and farmers," he said, while denying that deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal had a different stand on the issue and that SAD's coalition compulsions had forced them to toe the NDA line.
Referring to the allegations of vendetta politics levelled by Congressmen, Badal said they were raking up the issue just to divert the attention of the people from the core issues of development.
When asked about his friendship with INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala, Badal replied in a lighter vein, "I have nothing personal against anyone. I treat even Capt Amarinder Singh as my friend and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal as my sister."
The chief minister justified the taxes imposed by the state government as these were "mandatory to speed up the pace of development in the state". He said the imposition of property tax and other taxes was mandatory and conditional for getting the central grants.
Dhumal rules out FDI in HP
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on Saturday accused the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre of discriminating against Himachal Pradesh and other states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other constituents of the National Democratic Alliance.
"There is discrimination in allocation of funds and other key decisions. We will take this to the people of our state and make it an important issue in the upcoming assembly elections in Himachal," Dhumal said during an exclusive interaction with Hindustan Times staff at its leaderspeak@ht programme here. He listed various instances of alleged discrimination (read interview, Page 2), reeling off stats in support.
Asked about his stance on the Centre's move to allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, Dhumal flatly ruled out the possibility of allowing multinational companies to open retail outlets in Himachal Pradesh. "The MNCs will drive small retailers out of business. The FDI idea is not good. There has to be level-playing field," the chief minister remarked.
Dhumal, who deftly handled tricky questions about factionalism in the state BJP and charges of nepotism against him, oozed confidence about his party's victory in the forthcoming assembly elections.