Union Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said that no foreign direct investment (FDI) will be allowed in the retail sector, and the government is open to reviewing the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act if needed.
He said that the government is committed to safeguard the interests of farmers, industry and other sectors, and will not succumb to pressure from the West during the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade talks.
Addressing a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the functioning of the ministry of commerce and industry, the minister informed that the government is cautious on the issue of FDI in the retail sector. “Almost 97 per cent of the retail business is unorganised, and nothing such will be done that can lead to job loss or have an adverse impact on those involved in this sector,” he said.
Defending charges from the opposition and the Left regarding loopholes in the sanctioning of the SEZs, the minister said that so far around 80 SEZs have become operational. “When this number reaches 100, the government will carry out a detailed review to find out whether the law needs to be strengthened further,” said Nath.
He further said that it is wrong to compare Indian SEZs with other nations. “So far, there have been encouraging results. Exports from SEZs are projected to go up to Rs 1.24 lakh crore this fiscal, compared to Rs 65,000 crore in 2007-08. It has so far produced over 1.6 lakh jobs and attracted investments worth over Rs 67,000 crore. It has succeeded in generating tremendous economic activity in the country,” he asserted.
He also clarified that the Centre has nothing to do with land acquisition for SEZs as this is a state subject.