To stage demonstrations on September 20

The Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi (KVVES) will organise demonstrations on September 20 in protest against the Union government’s move to introduce 51 per cent foreign direct investment in the retail sector.

Shops will not be closed as the State has been excluded from the Bharat Bandh called by political parties in protest against the diesel price hike.

Traders will down shutters on October 3 to oppose the new reforms introduced by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

KVVES plans

Samithi vice-president Mariyil Krishnan Nair told The Hindu that the organisation would chalk out plans to protect retailers in the State. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had clarified a few months ago that the move on FDI would not be applicable to the State. The Union government had given the States discretionary powers to implement it.

“The samithi hopes that the State will bring in rules to protect the interests of the retailers. It will review the situation and take a decision if the State government fails to honour its promise,” he said.

He said the samithi had decided to shut shops on October 3 to oppose the functioning of the FSSAI. The authority was implementing rules without making adequate preparations. Hotels, bakeries, and other shops would join the strike.

‘Black day’

Kerala Samsthana Vyapari Vyavasayi Samithi president Binny Immatty said the organisation would observe September 20 as ‘black day’ in protest against the Centre’s move on foreign direct investment in the retail sector. A march would be taken out in Thiruvananthapuram to register its protest.

Mr.Binny said though Mr.Chandy had earlier expressed objection to the FDI in the retail sector in the State, he had not commented on the issue after the announcement by the Centre.

The government would not be able to resist the Centre’s decision which had mandate over the entire country. Earlier, when multinational giants entered the retail scene in Kerala, there were cases of denial of licence. But the retail groups challenged it in the court and won a favourable response, he said. A similar situation could occur this time too, he said.

Abdullakutty, another samithi member, said the Central government intended to give sanction to set up mega retail stores in cities with a minimum of 10 lakh people. Though cities in Kerala did not come under the category, the city limits could be stretched to include wider areas as in the case of Greater Kochi, which consists of several townships on the outskirts, which in turn would qualify for the norms for setting up stores in the new format, he pointed out.

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