Shifting sands of Indian politics were in evidence on Wednesday as the Centre announced easing FDI (foreign direct investment) rules for several sectors, including construction and single brand retail. "Now being in the government, it has hypocritically reversed its position".
In the recent past, the Government has brought FDI policy reforms in a number of sectors including Defence, Construction Development, Insurance, Pension, Other Financial Services, Asset reconstruction Companies, Broadcasting, Civil Aviation, Pharmaceuticals and Trading.
Singapore Airlines on Wednesday said it will keep options open on Air India stake after the Government allowed foreign carriers to own up to 49 per cent in the national carrier.
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It also allowed foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent under approval route in Air India.
"It has now been chose to do away with this restriction and allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent under approval route in Air India subject to the conditions that foreign investments in Air India including that of foreign airlines shall not exceed 49 per cent either directly or indirectly".
The government has also made a decision to allow relax the local sourcing norms for foreign entities engaging in SBRT in India. Under the existing policy, this limit was 49 per cent and for 100 per cent FDI, the government approval was required.
Air India, which is staying afloat on taxpayers' money, is estimated to have a debt burden of more than Rs 50,000 crore. "I don't think it's going to make much change because nearly all the major brands of the world are already here as 100 percent FDI was already allowed".
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"It has now been chose to permit 100 per cent FDI under automatic route. However, FII/FPI purchases were restricted to secondary market only".
Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu said the decisions would help "remove roadblocks" for receiving foreign investments and expressed the hope that relaxation of norms would facilitate faster development of the economy.
Cases under the government approval route, also requiring security clearance with respect to countries of concern, will continue to be processed by concerned administrative department or ministry. "This will liberalise and simplify the FDI policy and provide ease of doing business in the country.#ReformsInFDIpolicy #FDIpolicyForNewIndia". The government needs to inform the country what this policy will do.
The Sangh Parivar affiliates, the likes of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Laghu Udyog Bharati, outfits that have consistently opposed FDI in most sectors, said they needed more time to study the cabinet decisions. "For foreign retailers, coming to India and then waiting for government approval was not a good thing", Anil Talreja, partner, Deloitte India, told The Wire.
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