Powell backs government on FDI in retail - The New Indian Express

Powell backs government on FDI in retail

Published: 20th November 2012 11:00 AM

Last Updated: 20th November 2012 11:00 AM

With fireworks expected on the contentious FDI-in-retail in the Winter session of Parliament, Nancy Powell, the US ambassador to India, has expressed her support to the government. She described foreign investment in multi-brand retail as beneficial for consumers and farmers alike, and essential for reducing transportation loss.

“In India, a much bigger impact will come to the producers, the farmers in particular, who handle produce as they come out of the farms,” Powell briefed during an interaction with Indian Women’s Press Corps.

Powell noted that an “incredibly high” percentage of food was lost due to lack of proper storage facilities in India. “One of the very, very important benefits that multi-brand retail has brought across the world is improved supply chain,”. Some of the arguments that she had been reading in the Indian press was very familiar to the debate when retail giant Walmart came to “my part of the US”, observed Powell.

Not only has it brought a greater range of products for consumers at lower prices, the big retail chains have ”meant better prices for many of the producers and higher returns, as they do not lose as much between the farm and the store.”

She admitted that the issue could raise heckles here. “Obviously it is a political issue here--how you work with the kiranas, the small traders--it is also a recognition that not everybody is going to a big store. You will continue to have a variety of retail outlets, partially due to transportation. This will continue to be part of your political debate, but we are very, very pleased to see it coming to India,” said Powell.

The government had announced in September that states would have discretionary powers to take a call on allowing FDI of upto 51 percent in multi-brand retail. This had led Trinamool Congress, a major ally, to leave the ruling coalition.

The winter session of the Parliament is set to begin from November 22, when the opposition parties will try corner the government on this matter.

Not to Visit Gujarat Soon

Powell does not have immediate plans to visit Gujarat,but said she was “very pleased” with American investments in the state.

Powell said she will look to visit the state after settling her schedule and “other factors involved in travel.”  However, she stressed that the visit is not an immediate priority. Ever since she took over, Powell has been visiting several states in the country.

In 2005, the US had revoked a visa to Modi, under a law that “any government official who was responsible for or directly carried out at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom, was ineligible for a visa”. India had protested the decision and claimed Modi was a democratically elected leader.

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