The CPI(M) today accused the government of moving towards handing over Air India to foreign hands by allowing airlines from outside the country to own up to 49 per cent stake in the national carrier. In big bang FDI reforms ahead of the budget, the government today allowed foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent in debt-ridden Air India and also eased norms for investment in single-brand retail, construction and power exchanges. In a statement issued after the Cabinet decisions, the party said, "The politburo of the CPI(M) also strongly opposes the decision to allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent in Air India." "Having taken the decision to privatise Air India, the Modi government is now moving towards handing over Air India to a foreign airline." The Left party advised the government heed suggestions of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture that asked it to review its decision on privatisation of Air India and provide five years to revive the airline with its debt written off. The CPI(M) also criticised the decision of the Cabinet to allow 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through the automatic route in single-brand retail trade. The party said that though "FDI up to 49 per cent was permitted under the automatic route (till now), this decision to liberalise FDI in retail trade will have harmful consequences for domestic retail traders and shopkeepers". This measure indicates that the Modi government is moving towards allowing FDI in multi-brand retail trade, it claimed. The party also reminded that the BJP, while in opposition, was opposed to the entry of foreign companies into retail trade but now being in power, it has reversed its position.
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