It is a tragedy in waiting, say speakers at a roundtable

The Central Government's move to allow 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector was opposed here on Wednesday.

At a roundtable organised by the city unit of the BJP on the Centre's proposal, representatives of political parties, trade bodies and the Vijayawada Chamber of Commerce and Industry felt that the proposal was a great “tragedy in waiting.”

The speakers said that the retail sector was the second largest employer after agriculture in India, and ought to be protected against the onslaught of multi-national companies.

Negative consequences

There would be negative consequences of allowing 100 per cent FDI in retail on existing self-employment and would change the fabric of life in India by endangering small shops.

Small retailers and road-side shops were the largest providers of employment in rural, semi-urban areas, small towns and even urban areas. These traders would not be able to compete with the deep pockets of the FDI investors, they said.

Asserting that the proposed move to allow 100 per cent FDI in retail would mark a paradigm shift, the BJP city official spokesperson Uppalapati Srinivasaraju said that the Centre was in a hurry to open up the retail sector.

Cautioning the government against any hasty step in this direction, he said a blindfolded acceptance of 100 per cent FDI could not be supported as it could pose mid-term and long-term problems.

The multi-national firms were eyeing the huge market in the country, he said.

Vijayawada Chamber president Gaddam Subba Rao argued against the opening up of the retail market in the interests of people dependant on it.

Krishna District Chemists and Druggists' Association executive president K. Pitchaiah, Vijayawada Bar Association president Ch. Ajay Kumar, Ch. Krishna of the Lok Satta and others spoke.