As Delhi gets ready for a change of guard with Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal all set to be the chief minister, Delhi would no longer invite foreign direct investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector.
“Aam Aadmi Party strictly opposes FDI in retail because if it enters into the retail sector, then crores of small-scale Indian businessmen will come on the road, as they will lose their business and their livelihoods,” Kejriwal had opined in a letter written to Delhi traders.
However, retailers — both in the single brand and multi-brand segment — are unfazed by his statement.
“We are trading as per the law of the country and are not affected as of now. We are doing what is right,” said Venu Nair, managing director of Marks and Spencer, India.
A multi-brand retailer which is present in India through its wholesale cash-and-carry stores is playing it safe and not planning to set up stores here. “Though Delhi is not on anyone’s radar for setting up stores, one can’t ask the retailers to leave. Everyone is playing safe and not planning any stores here,” said an official privy to the retailer’s plans.
Incidentally, the country’s largest investment in the single brand retail segment by Swedish furniture maker Ikea, is in Delhi’s neighbourhood Noida.
In the same letter, Kejriwal had also said that the VAT system in Delhi has turned into a nightmare for businessmen, hence they usually bribe government officials in order to save themselves. The tax system needs to be simplified. This is also the foremost point of AAP’s manifesto, which it has promised to implement as soon as the party comes to power.
“FDI in retail should have been decided through a referendum. The way the parties had behaved in Parliament was very unfortunate,” Kejriwal had told mediapersons.
An AAP insider, however, says that the party has made its position of FDI in retail clear, but in case traders feel that they need to re-look into it, they could do a referendum through SMS, internet polls and public meetings on the issue.
Kejriwal, the bureaucrat-turned-politician who launched his party last year, had earlier said: “There has been a lot of question on FDI in retail and a proper debate on the issue did not take place. There has been a big question mark on the central government’s claim that FDI in retail will be good for the country’s farmers. But there has been a huge job loss wherever Wal-Mart had entered, even in the US,” he said.
He had said a list could be made on the issues where there ought to be a referendum to take the opinion of the people.