Government has not 'shelved' FDI in retail: Pranab

Government has not 'shelved' FDI in retail: Pranab New Delhi: India has not shelved its plan to allow foreign equity in multi-brand retail, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Friday saying “it is very much in the mind of the government” and efforts are on to build a consensus on foreign direct investment, even in insurance and pension.

“We announced FDI in retail policy, but could not implement it. But that does not mean we have shelved the policy,” Mukherjee said at the 106th annual general meeting of the PHD Chamber here.

He said the government was trying to build a consensus on the issue and would implement it as soon as a broad consensus is reached.

“The people have given us a limited mandate, with which we cannot carry out sweeping reforms. We are building consensus on it and shall implement it when we achieve it,” Mukherjee said.

The government was recently forced to put on hold its decision on allowing 51 percent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail after key allies Trinamool Congress and DMK joined the opposition in stalling the move.

Mukherjee said the government was also trying to build consensus to introduce reforms in other sectors like insurance and pension.

The finance minister said he wanted to push the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) bill in the current winter session of parliament, but could not do so because of the lack of requisite numbers in the upper house.

“Commitment to FDI, commitment to PFRDA and all other major legislations which are part of new generation reforms are very much in the mind of the government and we are working very hard to build up the consensus," he said.

On slowing growth in Asia's third largest economy, Mukherjee said the economy was going through a difficult situation and the overall growth was likely to come down to 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent in the current fiscal against the budgetary estimate of around 9 percent.

“When I am talking of 7.5 percent I am not disappointed... this is commendable considering the fact that our growth curve climbed rapidly only from 2003-04, when we achieved a growth rate of over 8 percent.”

He said inflation was likely to settle at around 6-7 percent by the end of the current fiscal. Food inflation declined to 1.81 percent for the week ended Dec 10. However, overall inflation based on wholesale price index still remains at an elevated level. It was recorded at 9.11 percent in November.

IANS