Even as the Centre makes a renewed effort to revive the stalled decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, it must contend with opposition not only from allies but also a state governed by a Congress-led coalition.
In an exclusive interview, Kerala chief minister Oomen Chandy tells ET that his government’s stance on keeping God’s Own Country out of bounds for foreign multi-brand retailers remains. However, the state is going all out to woo investment in sectors like infrastructure, IT and tourism.
The first step, according to Chandy, is to convince investors that militant trade unionism is a thing of the past. Excerpts:
Will you still oppose the renewed proposal for FDI in retail?
Lakhs of families in Kerala make a livelihood through retail trade. There may be some benefits from FDI in retailbut Kerala cannot afford losses it would cause to these families if foreign multi-brand retail chains compete with small traders. We have already expressed our reservations on the issue and our stance remains unchanged.
Commerce minister Anand Sharma has said states opposed to retail FDI cannot stop its implementation in other states keen on having multi-brand retail chains…
In Kerala, I have taken a tough stand against FDI in retail. I have the complete support of my party, my political front and the Opposition front. Other states have the freedom to decide what’s best for them.
But isn’t FDI in retail in consumer interest?
The retail field in Kerala is much more progressive as compared to other states. Local retailers take care of consumer interests.
How do you plan to attract investments?
Militant trade unionism has hit investments to Kerala. But today, workers are very cooperative and their leaders, understanding. The number of man-days lost due to strikes is very low in Kerala as compared to other states. Productivity and discipline are important to create a good industrial atmosphere.
(curtsey: economic times)
Head Research Department