It'll be letting a great opportunity slip away if India finally has to roll back the decision to allow 51% foreign direct investments in multi-brand retail, which would help raise farm incomes and push down prices, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Friday.
Pranab Mukherjee speaks at the HT Leadership Summit 2011 in New Delhi.
Mukherjee said the Parliament logjam over the FDI issue was "very much worrying", as it had blocked reforms in critical areas, such as the pension and banking sectors.
The government's executive decision on FDI in retail last week sparked a major political row over its impact on millions of small retailers and street vendors.
The UPA's rivals and allies have stalled Parliament proceedings since the start of the winter session nine days ago. The House will now reconvene only on Wednesday.
On efforts to break the stalemate, Mukherjee said, "If we can find an agreed text on which a discussion can take place in the House, perhaps we can resolve this issue. But I am not quite confident. I am not saying I will be able to do it, although the process is on and we are trying."
"Often, narrow political gains take precedence… even when it (reforms) is being done in a calibrated and sensitive manner," he said at the summit's inaugural session, 'Opportunities and Challenges in a Changing World'.
On opposition to the FDI proposal by non-Congress states, he said, "Our request is that you can exercise your authority within your territorial limits, but don't stand in the way of others."
HT editorial director Shobhana Bhartia said in the welcome address that the year has seen people say "enough" across the world, protesting against corruption in India, against capitalism with the Occupy Wall Street movement and against autocracy in West Asia.
"That power is moving from the West to the East is a cliché, but financial crises on both sides of Atlantic have moved this to the fast lane," she said.