US RETAIL giant Wal-Mart on Friday (November 25) lauded India’s decision to open its retail sector to foreign firms as an "important step" that would benefit business and the country.
US RETAIL giant Wal-Mart on Friday (November 25) lauded India’s decision to open its retail sector to foreign firms as an “important step” that would benefit business and the country.
“We believe that allowing 51 per cent FDI (foreign direct investment) in multi-brand retail is a first important step,” said Raj Jain, president of Wal-Mart India.
“This change will positively impact the Indian market and its people and will also contribute toward India’s image as one of the world’s fastest growing economies and a welcoming destination for international businesses.”
The comments came after the Indian government decided to open its vast retail sector to global supermarket chains, a move it claims will create 10 million jobs.
But the decision remains controversial.
The changes would push India further toward a modern consumer society but they are loudly contested by opposition lawmakers who fear large supermarkets such as Wal-Mart will kill small family-run stores where most Indians now shop.
Wal-Mart said its investment could improve living standards in India, although it added that more details about the policy were needed.
Meanwhile a leading opposition politician threatened Friday to set fire to any Wal-Mart store that opens in India after the government cleared a contentious plan to let global supermarkets set up shop.
The government announced Thursday (November 24) it would open up the long-protected retail sector, worth at least $470bn (£) in annual sales, to allow Wal-Mart, Tesco and other global firms to hold a 51-per cent stake in multi-brand retailers.
“By allowing Wal-Mart to directly invest in the retail sector, the government has jeopardised the job opportunities of the poor,” Uma Bharti, a prominent member of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said.“I will personally set fire to the (Wal-Mart) showrooms when they open anywhere in the country and I am ready to be arrested for the act,” Bharti declared.
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