The decision of the Union Cabinet to permit FDI into multi-brand retail in the country will create 10 million new jobs including 6 million in the logistics sector alone, said Shri Anand Sharma, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry. Addressing a media conference at Chennai this afternoon he said the policy has to be viewed in the Indian context. Responding to apprehensions about the consequences of the policy, he asserted that the Indian model is quite distinct and different and has been drafted in such a way that it is sensitive to the interests of farmers youth as well as consumers. The policy has been prepared after 18 – 20 months of extensive consultations with all the States and stakeholders like farmers unions, consumers and retailers associations. The Minister said in spite of India being the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables, most of the production perishes for lack of proper storage facilities or cold chain. The farmer still gets an unremunerative price which is many times lower than the market price at which the produce is sold to the consumer. The policy envisages to bring down post-harvest losses and aims to create better rural infrastructure like cold storages.
Shri Anand Sharma added that this is only an enabling policy wherein the decision to implement rests with the respective States. So far states like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have welcomed the policy and the Minister hoped that other states would follow suit, after appreciating the benefits that would accrue. He also made it clear that the retail sales locations could be set up only in cities with a population of more than 10 lakh. Only 53 cities out of 8000 towns and cities in the country qualify for this, and for the rest of the country the current policy continues to apply. In respect of proposals involving FDI more than 51%, 30% of the sourcing would have to be done from village and cottage industries as well as small and medium enterprises, the Minister clarified. This condition would ensure that the SME sector is benefited. Allaying apprehensions about the future of small traders, Shri Sharma said he small retailer will not only coexist with the big business, but also grow by 13% as a result of the new policy.