It will jeopardise the livelihood of four crore domestic retailers

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA)’s decision to open Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multibrand retail could lead to loss of manufacturing jobs, retail sector growth and eventually leading to loss of food security, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

Addressing members of his party here, he said that India’s purchasing power, with one sixth of the world’s population, was making the (international retail) companies to look at it as a big bazaar. The BJP had withstood pressure from the United States and European Union to open up retail sector for the FDI but “a submissive Prime Minister [Manmohan Singh] has agreed to it.”

“It is a decision for which India, at least, is not prepared today and I can’t understand the compulsion. Last November, the Prime Minister was willing to risk his government for it. I hope this government falls in this issue so that no one repeats the mistake,” Mr. Jaitley said.

By sourcing and selling cheap, international retail companies drive competition out and monopolise the market, he said. Citing the case of few developing nations such as Thailand, where 30 to 40 per cent of the retail trade was controlled by three to four companies, he said the FDI in retail here would jeopardise the livelihood of four crore domestic retailers in business. “A fractured market is always in public interest and not a monopolised market,” he said.

About 18 to 20 per cent of the workforce would be adversely affected as it depended on the domestic retail sector, he said, adding that international retail companies would not create any new job opportunities but would only displace the existing workforce.

Defending the BJP’s tactics of stalling Parliament, Mr. Jaitley contended that only because of this tactic that FIRs were filed, charge sheets were framed, arrests were made in the 2G spectrum scam.

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