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Govt to push FDI in retail at coordination panel meet

Date: 10-08-2012
Subject: Govt to push FDI in retail at coordination panel meet
NEW DELHI: The Congress leadership will take another shy at opening multi-brand retail to foreign retail chains, with the UPA coordination committee likely to be convened towards the end of the month specifically to smoothen the way for the long-pending liberalization move.

The meeting is expected to be attended by Trinamool chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee who has been the chief spanner in government's works to let in foreign retailers.

The coordination committee, comprising the UPA constituents which are part of the government, is expected to meet once a month; on the first Friday. However, while the panel held its first meeting only on Wednesday, its keenness to allow FDI in retail has led it to consider holding another meeting earlier than when it would have been scheduled.
In the meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had sought the cooperation of allies for evolving consensus on allowing in foreign retailers, leading the participants, who included Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, finance minister P Chidambaram and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, to consider deliberating the matter further.

Although the proposal to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail will be on the table, the government is not pushing for allowing foreign carriers to acquire up to 51% stake in Indian airlines. While the plan may be to pursue one issue at a time, the urgency for allowing overseas carriers has also declined given that only Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines remains on the brink, while other private players such as Jet and SpiceJet have turned the corner.

The proposal was approved by the Union Cabinet in November last year but the government was forced to hold back notification after protests from allies such as Mamata and even from within the Congress. If it manages to convince its allies, the UPA may be able to regain some of its lost credentials as a pro-reforms government. Besides, opening up retail to foreign players is seen as a major sentiment booster given that several governments such as the US and the UK have also taken up the issue with the Indian government.

Source : timesofindia.indiatimes.com