Reaffirming BJP's stand on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, PM Narendra Modi's new Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today indicated that foreign players will not be allowed to open mega stores in the country as it may adversely impact the small traders and farmers.
The 54-year old Minister said BJP has already clarified its position in the election manifesto on this politically sensitive issue.
"At this stage, the party position is very, very clear. We have explained about FDI in multi-brand retail that it probably is not best opened up now, because medium and small sized traders or small farmers have not been adequately empowered... if you open up the floodgates of FDI in MBR, it may affect them," she told reporters after assuming charge of the ministry.
Sitharaman, the first ever woman Commerce Minister inducted by PM Narendra Modi on Monday, was responding to a question whether the new government would rescind the current FDI policy of allowing foreign investment in multi-brand retail.
On her priorities, the Minister said she would sit with officials to understand what has happened all this while and further the manifesto based agenda of BJP.
Sitharaman, who was the National spokesperson for the BJP, is not a member of Parliament and would have to get elected to either the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha within six months.
The BJP manifesto had said that "barring the multi-brand retail sector, FDI will be allowed in sectors wherever needed for job and asset creation, infrastructure and acquisition of niche technology and specialised expertise".
Although the previous government had allowed 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, only one investment proposal of UK-based Tesco was cleared by the earlier government.
She said the ministry would look at the current FDI policy in a calibrated way.
"We do not have a fixed approach. We would like to look at FDI in each sector in a very calibrated fashion," Sitharaman said.
Boosting exports and creation of jobs will be top priorities, she added.
The Ministry would play an important role in enhancing economic and trade ties with all the countries, she said.
India's exports in the last three years have been hovering around USD 300 billion. Exports in 2013-14 fell short of the USD 325 billion target but managed to reach USD 312.35 billion.
Exports stood at USD 300.4 billion in 2012-13 and USD 307 billion