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Status quo on foreign equity in multi-brand retailing: Jaitley

Status quo on foreign equity in multi-brand retailing: Jaitley

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the decision taken by the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to allow 51 percent foreign equity in the country's multi-brand retail trade industry continues even as his party's views were well known.

"The views of my party on the policy and the views of my government on the same has been known to everyone for a long time. However, the official position right now is: The earlier policy, which was legislated and implemented by the previous government, still stands," Jaitley said.

"This is the current official position. I've not read exactly what she (Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman) has said. But the views are concurrent with that of the party and our government," the finance minister told a press conference here to mark one year of his government.

The question to Jaitley was posed against the backdrop of the commerce minister's deliberations last week with key stakeholders on the issue of whether or not India should allow foreign direct investment its e-commerce space.

"We are not taking any position this way or that way from the ministry. We have heard everybody. In fact, this is not going to be sufficient," Sitharaman had said after the meeting, adding: "I will need to hold more meetings with everyone -- individual operators and associations."

This made it clear that the government had not taken any position on the matter.

In January 2012, the UPA government approved 100 percent foreign equity in single-brand retail stores but with a caveat that they source 30 percent of their goods from India. Following that, in December the same year, it allowed up to 51 percent foreign equity in multi-brand retailing.

Yet, despite these norms in place, actual permissions to the global retail chains have not been given thus far, as Jaitley and Sitharaman's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been opposed to any form of foreign equity in the multi-brand commerce, fearing displacement of mom-and-po shops.

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