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Govt allows 100% FDI in single-brand retail via automatic
11 January 2018, 08:56 | Jan Cross
Government has given its nod to 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail
While allowing foreign airlines to have stake in Air India, the government has also made it clear that the national carrier's substantial ownership would remain with Indian nationals.
In aviation sector, as per the extant policy, foreign airlines are allowed to invest up to the limit of 49% of their paid-up capital under Government approval route, in the capital of Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services.
The Sangh Parivar affiliates, the likes of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Laghu Udyog Bharati, outfits that have consistently opposed FDI in most sectors, said they needed more time to study the cabinet decisions. However, this is a superficial clause since the government is the one selling the stake and it would be only too happy to sell a 49 percent stake to a foreign airline.
Besides retail, the Modi Cabinet also allowed foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent under the government approval route in Air India.
In major changes liberalising foreign direct investment in key sectors, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved 100 per cent foreign investment in single brand retail trading (SBRT) and construction development and chose to open up Air India for FDI up to 49 per cent.
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Speaking on FDI cap on SBRT, the government said in its statement: "Extant FDI policy on SBRT allows 49% FDI under automatic route, and FDI beyond 49% and up to 100% through Government approval route".
A senior civil aviation ministry official said that allowing FDI in Air India is a "considered decision" and will send out an important message to global investors. It says we will give jobs to people from each family. "It is a pity that instead of formulating policies for the welfare, upgradation and modernisation of existing retail trade, the government is more interested in paving way for the MNCs to control and dominate the retail trade of India", National Secretary General of CAIT Praveen Khandelwal said. "See 4-6 serious bids for AI subject to bid conditions". "Now being in government, it has hypocritically reversed its position", the statement said.
The Air India group covers 44 overseas and 75 domestic destinations. We have to examine the government's decision closely. However, this provision was not applicable to Air India, thereby implying that foreign airlines could not invest in the state-run airline.
It is nearly a given that the government will have to absorb much of Air India's massive debt to entice enough interest from any private sector company.
"Interesting-Commandeer a low valuation report, sell Air India to a crony oligarch who in turn disinvests 49 per cent to a foreign airline at hefty premium", Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said in a tweet. "After completion of this 5 year period, the single bran retailer will be required to meet the 30% sourcing norms directly towards its India's operation, on an annual basis", the release further stated.
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