‘Cong will try to persuade Mamata to give up FDI opp`

The Minister of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and Overseas Indian Affairs refused to buy the argument of some of the UPA allies.

Updated: Sep 15, 2012, 17:34 PM IST

Bangalore: The Congress has taken Trinamool Congress` 72-hour deadline to the UPA government for roll back of FDI in multibrand retail and diesel price hike seriously and "concerned leaders will talk" to Mamata Banerjee, Union Minister and senior party leader Vayalar Ravi said Saturday.

"I have seen the news report. I do not want to comment. She is one of our (UPA) partners, naturally she said something (the demand), government will take it seriously and concerned leaders will talk to her (to win her over)", Ravi told reporters here.

The Minister of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and Overseas Indian Affairs refused to buy the argument of some of the UPA allies that they have not been taken into confidence on the issue of FDI in retail.

He said the decision was taken in the Cabinet, where there was representation of all coalition partners, but added that "every party (ally) has the right to express their views".

Ravi who also holds the charge of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences ministry, said the move to hike diesel prices was "not a happy decision" for the Government.

Government was compelled to take it to reduce the huge oil subsidies and in the wake of pressure on GDP growth and slow-down in the economy, and the government also did not want any "slackness" in funding for the pro-poor MNREGA, Ravi said.

"Even international media has reported that India is stuck and growth is slowing down", he said.

The Minister argued that FDI in retail would not have impact on traditional retailers, noting that big malls are already operational in cities, and the government has not received any complaint that their presence has hit small retailers.

Ravi pointed out that FDI in retail would happen only if the state governments want it and only in places where the population is more than one million.

"Options are with the state governments", he said.

Ravi said the proposal (by the industry and commerce ministry) seeking relaxation in 30 per cent sourcing clause for single brand foreign retailers has not been accepted by him.

"I said no (to the proposal)",he said, adding,"Generally, that regulation has not been diluted, not diluted at all".

But he said there is exemption provided for some items which are not available such as iPad and certain branded watches as the government does not want to put road-blocks to investment flow.