Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma today said Congress would allow FDI in retail in Himachal Pradesh if the party is voted to power in the state which is going to polls on November 4. “Himachal (BJP) Chief Minister P K Dhumal has harmed the interests of horticulturists by opposing and delaying FDI in retail, and the Congress if returned to power in the state would allow FDI in retail,” Sharma said at a press conference. He also flayed the ruling BJP on its stand on FDI saying the Opposition party is only indulging in “political opportunism”. While the opposition of Left Parties to FDI in retail reflected the “ideological bankruptcy of these parties, the BJP was indulging in political opportunism but the government was determined to push through its decision on FDI,” Sharma said.
The BJP had all along been supporting FDI in retail but it changed stance due to political considerations, he added. Last month, the government notified FDI in multi-brand retail, allowing multinational companies to invest up to 51 per cent for opening stores. So far only 10 states have agreed to implement the decision. States including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and from the North Eastern have supported FDI in retail, Sharma said. He claimed even hill states like Uttarakhand, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir have extended their support. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail would be more useful for hill states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir where the growers are not able to take their produce to major markets due to inadequate infrastructure, Sharma said. FDI would ensure the growers get remunerative returns and boost agro-processing industry, the minister added. Claiming that the interests of small traders and growers have been fully protected in FDI policy, Sharma said the growers would have access to integrated infrastructure with storage, marketing and processing facilities which would go a long way in strengthening their economy.
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