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'No rollback on FDI in multi-brand retail'

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Just a day after the Trinamool (TMC) withdrew its support over the issues of foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail and rise in diesel prices, Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on Wednesday ruled out any possibility of a rollback over allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.

Sharma, speaking at a function here on Wednesday, urged TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee, to “reflect and ponder” over her decision.

Yesterday, the Banerjee-led TMC announced its withdrawal from the Congress-led under protest over the issue of in multi-brand retail. All TMC ministers have been asked to resign from their respective posts in the government on Friday.

“The word rollback is not in our dictionary. The decision on allowing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail was taken last year, along with permitting 100 per cent FDI in single-brand retail. FDI in single-brand retail was notified, but the decision on FDI in multi-brand retail was put under suspension (over opposition from various parties, including TMC),” Sharma said addressing a press conference at the state Congress headquarters here.

He said after the implementation was suspended another round of consultation with states was held. "And after that a considered view to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, was taken based on strong demands from states," he added.

“The reaction (of Mamta) has been unfortunate and unclear. But I will, still, urge her to reflect and ponder,” Sharma requested.

He said in the spirit of constitution of India, the Centre has to respect the demands of all the state in a Federal structure.

"She wanted that states should be able to make their choice with regard to FDI, this has been done," he added.

Sharma opined the policy of the Union government on FDI multi-brand retail was enabling and its implementation was left out to the wisdom of the states.

The minister also justified the recent hike in diesel prices by saying that it was because of the high brent crude prices in the international market. On comparison of petrol and diesel prices during BJP-led NDA rule, Sharma said, "Brent crude today costs around $115 per barrel. During NDA regime brent crude price was around $43 per barrel. Throughout the NDA tenure it was between $28 and $43."

He further said if states with high value added tax (VAT) on fuel prices like Gujarat were to reduce the tax, the prices of petrol and diesel could come down. Gujarat charges 24.5 per cent on diesel.

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