Fresh hurdle hits reforms in retail
The UPA government's efforts to open up the multi-brand retail sector to foreign companies such as Wal-Mart faced a fresh roadblock on Sunday as Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and top Left leaders shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, urging him not to proceed with opening up of the sector as there was no wide-ranging consensus on the issue.
The government was hoping to revive the decision to throw open the sector to foreign investment after the presidential polls in a move to boost sentiment, which had taken a knock after months of policy paralysis.
"The entry of the giant Wal-Mart supermarket chain will have a disastrous impact. According to one estimate, a Wal-Mart supermarket in India will displace over 1,300 small retail stores and render around 3,900 persons jobless," said the letter signed by Mulayam, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy, JD(S) general secretary Danish Ali, AIFB general secretary Debabrata Biswas and RSP secretary Abani Roy.
"We urge the government not to open up the retail trade to FDI any further. Political parties across the spectrum are opposed to this move. Many state governments have also stated their opposition," the letter said.
The leaders said that when employment growth has slowed down (according to the National Sample Survey data of 2009-10), the entry of foreign supermarkets would aggravate unemployment.