Congress decries FDI as a major onslaught on retail traders

New Delhi: In a blistering attack on the Modi government's new FDI (foreign direct investment) policy, the Congress on Thursday expressed concern over the cruel onslaught on India's three crore retail traders and about 15 crore people working in their shops who are already reeling under the economic slowdown.

The FDI relief to the foreign companies in the single brand retail shows that the Modi government is contended with serving the multinational foreign companies with big purses, with the least concern about the small shopkeepers and traders, Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a statement.

He asked the government to better tweak the policy to allow the foreign investments only in the areas which require capital and which can bring new technology and employment instead of sabotaging own "Make in India" programme.

Surjewala said most shocking is the decision to allow the foreign companies to start the online sale two years before opening their single brand retail outlets. He said the outlets would have helped arrival of foreign money in the Indian markets and investments in land and construction that would to promote employment to the Indian youth.

Instead, the foreign companies will be able to sell their products directly to 130 crore Indian consumers by just creating a website, Surjewala said, pointing out that so far no foreign firm was allowed any online sale until it opens outlet.

He also opposed the decision to fiddle with the 30 per cent local sourcing criteria for the single brand retail by including the exports in it. They will buy 30 per cent Indian stuff and export it all to enable selling 100 per cent imported items, he pointed out.

Still worse is the government decision to analyse this local sourcing only once in five years instead of every year under the previous policy. Surjewala said the government is actually giving a free hand on the local sourcing for seven years since there is no binding on starting the store for the first two years and then there would be no review of fulfillment of the local sourcing forf another five years.

The Congress leader said the 30 per cent local sourcing rules used to protect the interests of the small and medium industries as also rural industries and artisans since the foreign companies were forced to make them part of their business and production to be eligible to supply their items in the Indian markets.

The foreign companies selling their items directly through the online trade will hit the Indian traders and retailers as they will be able to capture the retail trade in India, Surjewala added.

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