Giving a clear signal that opening up the multi-brand retail sector to foreign investment is very much on the cards, the Consumer Affairs Ministry will initiate steps to bring consumer organisations on board to arrive at a consensus on the ambitious proposal.
The retail sector is a key focus area of the ministry, which is responsible for looking after the consumer interest.
"The ministry will hold further consultations with consumer organisations on January 12," a senior official told PTI.
Despite being forced to put the Cabinet decision of November 24 to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail on hold by the Opposition parties and UPA ally Trinamool Congress, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has already started wider consultations with stakeholders.
Around 20 consumer organisations have been invited for the meeting in the Consumer Affairs Ministry, the official said.
He said the momentum of the consultations is likely to pick up after Assembly elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, which has opposed the Centre's decision on FDI in retail.
Several other states ruled by the Trinamool Congress, BJP and AIADMK are opposing foreign investment in the sector, contending that the move would render lakhs of traders out of work.
Some of the large consumer cooperatives like Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) have also expressed their opposition to the move.
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The market will be operated under the aegis of the Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium