Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said the BJP was “never” in favour of allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail and a recent government notification only published the extant policy on it. “Let’s be very clear. What the DIPP (Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion) did was publish the existing policy and so far what was decided by the UPA is continuing, the fact that the BJP was never in favour of this decision is publicly known,” Jaitley told PTI in an exclusive interview.
He was replying to a question on the DIPP in its FDI policy compendium stating that 51 per cent foreign direct investment was permitted in the multi-brand retail sector. “If somebody asked me what is your view, I said BJP is never in favour of this,” he said. Asked that what is stopping the government to reverse the decision of the UPA government on the sector, he said: “Leave something for the government also.”
On May 12, the DIPP retained the previous UPA government’s decision allowing foreign retailers to open multi-brand stores with 51 per cent ownership, in its consolidated FDI policy released. Although the previous government had allowed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi—brand retail, only one investment proposal of the UK—based Tesco was cleared.
The BJP manifesto had said, “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.” Jaitley also evaded giving a direct reply to a question on what the government’s response will be if a retailer was to submit an FDI proposal. “When it will come, I will (respond),” he said.
“I have replied what I have said, the DIPP circular has reproduced what is the existing policy. At the same time if somebody asked me what is your view, I would say the BJP is never in favour of this,” he added.