India to take political call on FDI in retail soon

London: The Indian government is trying to build a consensus on FDI in multi-brand retail and a "political call" will be taken as it cannot wait indefinitely, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Thursday.

"We are trying to build a consensus. Some parties have reservations such as Left which have ideological blinkers and there is a disconnect with the world. We are committed for FDI in retail…It will be a political call," he told reporters here.

The minister was here to attend the Global Investment Conference. The decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail was announced in November last year. But its implementation was put on hold after a strong protest from various parties including key ally of India`s ruling UPA coalition Trinamool Congress.

After that, the government has renewed its efforts to forge a consensus on the politically-sensitive issue. "We cannot wait for unanimity on FDI nor can we wait forever. We will take a call when to take the decision (to take it forward)," he added.

Sharma also said that the government is engaged with other stakeholders including farmers, industry and community groups on the matter.

As the UPA supporting Samajwadi Party also opposing the decision, the government would find it difficult to implement the decision. Recently, JD-U President Sharad Yadav joined hands with Left and SP in opposing foreign direct investment in retail.

Meanwhile, Sharma also met Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao here. The meeting assumes significance in the backdrop of Vodafone facing tax issues in India.

Following amendment to the Income-Tax Act with retrospective effect, Vodafone may be asked to pay Rs 20,000 crore in tax, interest and penalty for its 2007 acquisition despite winning the tax case in the Supreme Court.

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