Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: The Centre has initiated two studies by expert groups to find out the impact of foreign direct investment (FDI) on the retail sector and the entry of big corporate and industrial houses in it.

“The Indian Council for Research on International Relations is conducting a comprehensive study on the entire retail sector, while the National Council for Applied Economic Research is studying the impact of opening up retail on the agriculture sector. Both groups have sought some more time and the reports are likely to be submitted soon,” Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Cutting across party lines, members demanded a ban on the entry of big players in the retail sector and of FDI even in single brand until the study was completed. They expressed concern at the adverse impact on the livelihoods of lakhs of small traders and shopkeepers.

Citing a tie-up between the U.S.-based Wal-Mart and the Bharti Group for retail business, the members alleged that multinationals were making a backdoor entry into the sector and under pressure from the companies, the government would soon allow FDI in multibrand retail also.

The Minister said the Centre was committed to safeguarding the interests of shopkeepers and traders.