New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) The government is yet to take a decision on opening up multi-brand retailing to foreign direct investment (FDI), Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha Friday.
Replying to a calling attention motion from Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Dasgupta and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Nishikant Dubey, Mukherjee said there was no such recommendation or proposal made to the government for liberalising FDI in the multi-brand retailing sector.
“There is no recommendation for FDI in multi-brand trading. Government has not taken any decision on this,” he said.
“I am repeating…government has not taken any view on it at all because the issue is complex,” he added.
Referring to the Economic Survey that the government presented in parliament last month, Mukherjee said the beauty of the report lay in the freedom given to the analysts “not to jaundice” their analysis on the basis of the official view of the government.
“The analysts have been asked to apply their mind. Though the stated policy of the government may be something, the economic survey may vary from it,” he added.
The finance minister said the house could discuss only a decision already taken by the government. “When the decision is in the process of being taken, it is the domain of the executive. Once a decision is taken, then it is in the public domain and hence it can be discussed, debated, agreed to, or opposed.”
Mukherjee said there was no “cause of action” for the calling attention motion and added: “Can I give any blanket assurance?”
He also noted that the governments since 1997 had formulated different policies on FDI with some safeguards. “It is not a decision of merely one government.”
Assuring the house that efforts are made to evolve a consensus as broad as possible, Mukherjee said: “I do not claim it (policy) is perfect.”
He also noted that the calling attention had to be directed towards the commerce minister as the FDI was a subject dealt by him, though the finance minister had an overall responsibility.
Under the existing rules, the FDI is not allowed in retail, except for trade of “single brand” products, where up to 51 percent foreign investment is permitted. The FDI up to 100 percent is also allowed in wholesale cash-and-carry trade.