The cabinet is likely to approve 51% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail on Thursday, a decision that will allow global mega chains like Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour to open outlets in India. Also on the cabinet agenda is the proposal to increase the FDI ceiling to 100% from the present 51% in single-brand retail.
It is also likely to take up the new companies bill and a proposal to start 2,500 model schools in Public Private Partnership (PPP) in educationally backward districts of India.
Most of the ministries, including the finance and the textiles, are in favour of the industry ministry's proposal to open the politically-sensitive retail sector to foreign players and the cabinet will take a final call, government sources said.
A panel headed by the Cabinet Secretary, Ajit Kumar Seth had recommended 51% FDI in multi-brand retail with certain riders, like minimum investment of $100 million and local sourcing.
The decision on the issue has been pending since more than two years following a stiff resistance from the opposition parties, who have cited concerns that allowing major global retailers would lead to unemployment among the unorganised sector.
The cabinet will take up the companies bill for the second time in two months, which was deferred last time due to differences between finance and corporate affairs ministries.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and corporate affairs Minister Veerappa Moily were asked to discuss and iron out issues. The ministers have come to a consensus on the issue, sources said.