Small retail in the country will not only co-exist with big retail but it will also grow at a minimum rate of 13 per cent in the coming decades, Anand Sharma, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, said on Saturday.

Responding to questions on the Centre's latest decision of allowing 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail, Mr. Sharma told a press conference that the country's experience in permitting, over a decade ago, organised retail trade without any restriction for Indian investors had been that the small retail had grown by 15 per cent annually.

On the question of building a consensus across political parties, the Union Minister replied that “we have sincerely tried to build a consensus by talking to everyone.” It had taken 18 to 20 months for the government to reach the present position as it engaged in “extensive consultations” with stakeholders — States and associations of industry, farmers, consumers and retail traders.

He emphasised that the Centre's role was to provide an “enabling policy framework” whereas the implementation of the policy was left to States. “Some of the States may not opt for it,” he conceded, adding that 53 cities, having a population of one million and more as per the 2011 Census, qualified for FDI in multi-brand retail.

Till now, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Orissa had welcomed the policy. A farmers' rally had been planned in Punjab, Mr. Sharma said, hoping that other States would follow suit.

Emphasising that the policy had an “Indian signature,” he said it was different from those of industrialised countries and other developing countries. The conditions that had been imposed by the Union government were not found in the policies of those countries.

Keywords: FDI issueretail FDI