Walmart India president Raj Jain has welcomed the Government’s “calibrated and cautious approach” in opening up the country for foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, amid concerns expressed by the opposition parties and others over the future of small retailers.
Mr. Jain, who is also managing director of Bharti Walmart, said the joint venture was not willing to wait for all States to approve of FDI in the retail sector to roll out its outlets. “There are enough States including big States such as Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh that are willing to allow FDI. These States are big enough to start our plans (for retail),” he said.
Mr. Jain was here on Wednesday to open Bharti Walmart’s “Best Price Modern Wholesale Cash-and-Carry store. He said the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail was only nine days old, and it was less than a week since the notification came out. “It is too early to make a comment on the investment plans and other issues. We ourselves don’t know,” he said.
The Government had recently announced its decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in the multi-brand retail sector, but with a set of pre-conditions. While the States are asked to decide on whether or not to allow FDI, the lower limit of investment is set at $100 million of which $50 million should be invested on back-end infrastructure.
Mr. Jain said the joint venture was studying the proposals in detail, and it would take at least a month to come out with a firm plan in venturing into the retail space. “Retail market is very large, and we have to figure out all the conditions and requirements before firming up our plans,” he said.
Asked about the West Bengal Government’s opposition to opening of foreign-funded stores, he said it was for the companies to demonstrate that it was good, not bad, by removing the “fear of unknown”.