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Kapil Sibal defends FDI in Retail

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TNI Bureau: Defending Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail, Union Information Technology and Communications Minister Kapil Sibal on Tuesday said the move would help in increasing productive capacity, upgrading of technology and creation of employment opportunities.

Participating in a debate in the Lok Sabha on FDI in multi-brand retail, Mr Sibal argued that FDI would benefit the farmers and accused the opposition of siding with middlemen.”The purpose of the policy is that the farmer should get a higher price than he gets in the mandi (market),” he said.

Accusing the main Opposition party BJP of unnecessarily politicising the FDI issue, Mr. Sibal said the BJP had opposed liberalisation but supported the same policies when it led the NDA’s coalition government at the Centre.

The Minister also stressed that implementing FDI in retail was dependent on the state governments and no one was being forced to accept it.

The minister cited the case of West Bengal, saying Pepsico there bought agricultural produce from 10,000 farmers. He said the demand in West Bengal for potatoes by Pepsico had gone up from 22,000 tonnes last year to 60,000 tonnes and the cultivated area had also increased from 5,500 acres to 7,000 acres. “The market price of potato is Rs.3 per kg, Pepsico gives Rs.7 per kg,” he said.

Enumerating the merits of the policy, he said the investors will have to invest at least $100 million, half of which will be in creating infrastructure.

Mr. Sibal also pointed out that India had made giant strides in the component industry in automobile sector and pharmaceuticals. “Today top three pharma companies are from India and without our components no car can be manufactured,” he said.

Mr. Sibal said the urban population in the country would go up from 340 million to 4,654 million by 2020 and there would be a pressing need for jobs for the youth. “Manufacturing sector is now looking up in India as wages here are low and efficiency higher as compared to China. FDI infusion will create jobs in the manufacturing sector,” he said. Mr. Sibal informed the House that China, Russia and Chile had allowed 100 per cent FDI.

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