New Delhi: Congress-led Kerala government is opposed to foreign investment in multi-brand retail saying the move would hurt lakhs of traders engaged in small retail business.
"In the beginning, we openly expressed our reservation. In Kerala, lakhs of families are involved in retail business and small shops. So, we don`t want to disturb them...Our stand is very clear, we are opposing it", Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Monday.
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma is reaching out to several Chief Ministers including those from non- Congress ruled states for implementing FDI in multi-brand retail.
This includes the Chief Ministers of Odisha, Punjab and and Uttar Pradesh.
He said opening of the USD 550 billion sector would increase employment opportunities for rural youth and make them stakeholders in the entire agri-business chain.
However, according to Chandy: "There might be some benefits in the long-run...But in the short-term we cannot take risk".
Later in the day, while speaking at an Assocham programme, he said, "Retail business in Kerala, even in villages, has improved and they are doing well. This is the reason we expressed our reservation, so this is not applicable to Kerala at this stage."
In an effort to form consensus on the politically sensitive issue of allowing 51 per cent FDI in the sector, Sharma had written to the Kerala Chief Minister seeking his support in this regard.
Although the Union Cabinet had approved opening of multi-brand retail for foreign investors, the decision was kept on hold following opposition from UPA ally Trinamool Congress and other political parties.