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IBEF: Could you especially share your views in the context of FDI in multi-brand retail - the potential that the policy holds for the sector in the Indian market?

Mr Sharma: India didn’t allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in this sector until this policy decision in multi-brand retail, which is now permitted and notified. Since we are a union of states and a large country, the decision was primarily left to the states. The states, who are keen to move forward and Government of India has already notified 10 of these states, some of these are very big states and more are in the pipeline. The investors will surely bring in the technology and the experience and they will work with an Indian partner. This policy has a distinct Indian signature because we are keen that it promotes domestic manufacturing and job creation. Though we had kept a ceiling of multi-brand to open up the front in the cities with population of one million and above which are 53-54 in the country. But again, there was a view taken that there are states which are small states but which have strength in horticulture and major producer of fruits and vegetables whether it is Uttarakhand, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir and so on. These states do not have any city with a population of one million and above. Therefore, special dispensation for all the states to have their own determination and identification of the city where they want to open up. We are also keen that there is genuine infrastructure building in the rural areas that is why backend infrastructure investment is mandatory. The minimum threshold that we have is US$ 100 million for any FDI proposal to be considered and half of this investment is for back-end infrastructure. I think that once it gets implemented, though it will take time, it will allow investors to come and work in the location of their choice in various states.

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