The Union Government on Friday assured the Lok Sabha that decision on allowing FDI in multi-brand retail would be taken only after building a larger consensus and consulting the States.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government had not taken any decision on opening the Indian market to foreign retail giants in the multi-brand retail sector because of the complexities surrounding the issue.

Responding to a calling attention motion sponsored jointly by Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) and Nishikant Dubey (BJP), Finance Minister quoted UNCTAD's observation that job losses in informal economy would be outweighed by employment creation by multinational companies.

On the other hand, FDI would benefit in creation of better quality jobs in general and more opportunities for women, he said stressing that he was now reading Pricewater House Cooper report and that of an organisation that advocated the interest of developing countries.

Referring to the report submitted by a committee in this regard, Mr. Mukherjee said it had not made any recommendation but had only analysed, collated and summarised the responses received on the discussion paper and that the government had not taken any decision on it.

He disclosed that 73 out of 109 respondents had opposed the move and they were mostly farmers, small traders and villagers. Others had suggested to the contrary saying introduction of multi-brand retailing would improve the situation.

Allaying fears of Mr. Dasgupta and Mr. Jha, the Finance Minister assured them to go by a larger consensus and involve the States to take on board their interests as well. He stressed that efforts were on to build a broad consensus on the issue.

Mr. Dasgupta and Mr. Jha cautioned against opening multi-brand retail to FDI saying it would spell disaster to over eight crore small retail traders in the country.

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