New Delhi: Strongly opposing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the policy will make India a country of “sales boys and sales girls”.
Stating that the entry of international retailing chains without correcting the manufacturing sector would eventually destroy production in the country, Jaitley said the coming generations would be left with little options.
“The essence is that domestic retail sources products locally; international retailers source internationally… They buy from the cheapest market,” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said during the debate on FDI in multi-brand retail in the upper house of parliament.
“When we open our market to foreign retailers without reforms in manufacturing, what will happen? The first to be affected will be jobs in manufacturing sector. We (will) cease to be a manufacturing nation. We will be consumers and our children will be sales boys and sales girls,” he said.
Jaitley also questioned the government’s claim that the policy would create more jobs.
“You say retail FDI will give 10 million jobs. But how many livelihoods will be lost? See the situation of America. Before organised retail came in 1979, there were 19.5 million people employed in retail. Today, it is 11.5 million. The reason is clear,” he said.
He rejected the government’s argument that the policy would benefit the farmers.
“(Law minister) Ashwini (Kumar) said farmers need retail FDI. The basis of argument is that there are a lot of middlemen. If middlemen are removed, farmers will benefit.
“But see the situation of farmers in the US. They should have been affluent. But the US government has to give subsidy of $400 billion per year because farmers are not getting enough prices for their produce,” he said.
“The problem is that small middlemen are removed and a super affluent middleman replaces them.”
Jaitley also mentioned that so far, there was not even a single Wal-Mart store in the Manhattan area of New York, one of the most developed urban centres of the US.
“Because the New York mayor knew that if a Wal-Mart store opened, many small businesses around will close and if so many people suffer, he will lose his post. Same will happen with the government here,” he said.
Jaitley also attacked the government for being in minority and called it a “lame duck” and underplayed its victory on voting on the issue in the Lok Sabha Wednesday.
“You cannot touch the 272 mark in the Lok Sabha. The government cannot see 254 as a win. When you are 18 short of majority, then you cannot run the government as you please. After that Lok Sabha figure, you are a lame duck government,” Jaitley said.
He said the government was dependent on the support of others and would have to pay a huge price for this.
“It is a costly support and every day you will have to pay a price. And we will see how that support will effect the country’s administration in coming days,” he said.