As the Prime Minister gets ready to fast-track reforms to bring in more foreign direct investment into the country, a senior party colleague has raised a red flag on multi-brand retail.

The Kerala Chief Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, said here on Monday that the State was not ready for FDI in the retail sector. The Commerce Minister, Mr Anand Sharma, had recently claimed that all Congress-ruled States, including Kerala, were in favour of FDI in the sector.

At an interaction with industry chamber Assocham, Mr Chandy said the State had expressed its reservations to the Centre on the issue. He said there were two reasons for the opposition. “Lakhs of people are engaged in retail business in the State. The FDI will affect them. Second, even in the villages we have a very good retail system. So, at this stage, we don’t think FDI in retail will be a good step in Kerala,” he said.

‘Emerging Kerala’

Mr Chandy said the Prime Minister will inaugurate “Emerging Kerala”, a three-day event to woo foreign and domestic investors. “The past is past. Kerala has now an investor-friendly atmosphere. A set of new policies is being implemented in various sectors to invite investors,” he added.

He said trade unions were also helping the Government create an investor-friendly atmosphere. “Kerala lost the least number of working days due to strikes and lock-outs compared with other States,” he said. He invited the Chamber for the event, which will begin on September 12.

He said the State was planning mega projects, including a high-speed rail corridor connecting Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod. “We are encouraging private participation in all these projects,” he said.

Industry zones

The Kerala Finance Minister, Mr K. M. Mani, said the State Government was creating special zones for industries, for which a special package was being provided to acquire land. “If you are not investing in Kerala, you are missing an opportunity ,” he said.

Mr Chandy also released a study report by the industry body , ‘Kerala —Roadmap for Inclusive Growth’, which provides insights into various sectors in the State.

(This article was published on July 3, 2012)
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