Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the Assembly on Thursday that “so long as this government is in office, Kerala will not allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into its retail sector.” He made the statement when Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan asked him to clarify whether Congress MPs from Kerala had received “their share of the money” Wal-Mart had allegedly spent on lawmakers to gain access to markets in various countries, including India. Mr. Achuthanandan pointed out that the Union government had ordered a probe to verify wheth er Wal-Mart’s lobbying money had reached India also.
Mr. Chandy said the Congress MPs from the State had obtained special permission for the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government in the State to keep out FDI from Kerala’s retail market.
Their voting in Parliament on the FDI issue was in accordance with the whip given by the party, he said. They had prevailed upon the party’s national leadership to accept the Kerala government’s position. He criticised Mr. Achuthanandan for trying to cast aspersions on the sincerity of the Congress MPs from the State.
These exchanges between the Chief Minister and the Opposition leader occurred during the discussion on a notice for an adjournment motion for considering the crisis situation prevailing in the traditional sectors in the State. Speaking against the notice for the adjournment motion, Mr. Chandy said the government had set apart more than Rs.75 crore to support traditional industries such as coir, cashew, and handloom. Welfare pensions for those in these sectors had been fully paid till Onam and the arrears payable after Onam would be paid before the end of December.
The Chief Minister said the government would announce a further extension of the moratorium on fishermen’s loans. (The moratorium now in force would expire in December, exposing the debtor fishermen to revenue recovery proceedings as they await relief due to them under the proceedings of the Fishermen’s Debt Relief Commission.)