The much-hyped retail round-table called by commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma on Thursday,which was attended representatives of both global retail majors such as Tesco,Walmart and Carrefour,as well as domestic players including the Tata group,Bharti Enterprises,Aditya Birla Group,Reliance Retail and Pantaloon,failed to live up to its billing.
While the firms sought more clarity on the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy in multi-brand retail trading and sought that certain changes be made in the existing policy to attract investors,the government had little to offer in the form of concrete assurances.
Not even a single global player has expressed serious interest in the multi-brand retail sector ever since it was liberalised September last year. In the meeting,the retailers raised concerns,especially those pertaining to mandatory sourcing and back-end infrastructure requirement. Bharti Enterprise,which has a 50:50 joint venture with Walmart,said 30 per cent sourcing from small and medium enterprises (SME) should be not be mandatory but instead should be made preferably since not everything can be sourced from them.
We have also said that at the entry point it should be an SME but if it crosses the limit of $1 million,we should be allowed to continue sourcing from the same unit, Rajan Mittal,Bharti Enterprises vice-chairman,told reporters after emerging from the meeting. Walmart Asia chief Scott Price,who flew in Wednesday to announce top-level reshuffle in the India unit,met Sharma in the morning to discuss issues regarding the multi-brand retail trade (MBRT). Most of the retailers raised the issue of 50 per cent mandatory investment in back-end infrastructure,saying that it should be made only out of the first tranche of FDI. Presentations were made by industry chambers Ficci and CII,summing up the concerns of both global and Indian retailers.
Attempting to assuage investor concerns,Sharma said the purpose of the meeting was to interact with the retailers and potential investors,and an early and appropriate view will be taken so that the guidelines can accordingly be given out.