Some 1.5 crore kirana (provision) shops in AP are preparing for a massive showdown with the government till it withdraws the FDI in multi-brand retail. They call it betrayal of the common man. Interestingly, AP Inc seems supportive while ‘Bharat’ says no to FDI.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy’s announcement on Tuesday that his government will allow FDI in multi-brand retail has thrown up a strange situation. The trade bodies and big retail chains welcomed it while the 1.5 crore small provision store owners are apprehensive of the move.
Enlightened among them argue that the retail giants are opposed even in the US and Europe, how will they be different in India?
While the industrial bodies, CII and FAPCCI, welcomed the move with certain conditions other stakeholders involved like small and medium retail outlet owners opposed the move. Speaking on the issue, Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FAPCCI) Devendra Surana whole heartedly lauded the move and said that it would help the State in many ways.
He said that the FDI would reduce the transaction cost from seller to buyer and will ensure that there is sufficient investment and technological support to local investors.
It would also help in reducing the wastage in transportation of some perishable goods which stand at 50 per cent of the total produce, he added.
“FDI in the State’s retail sector is a boon from all angles. The most important benefit of it is that it would help the local farmers sell their produce in foreign markets like the USA and European countries. In the present conditions it would be impossible to sell these products in foreign countries owing to their complex laws and rules to get approvals,” Surana said.
Commenting on whether the FDI would lead to creation of employment, Surana said that it would neither create nor lead to loss of jobs in the retail sector.
FAPCCI general secretary MV Rajeswar Rao also hailed the decision. But he requested the CM to abolish APMC Act, prevent electricity crisis and ensure 50 per cent back end infrastructure before introducing the FDI as it would be impossible to reap benefits without solving these problems. “FDI can’t be successful unless the State solves these glaring problems apart from amending the act,” Rao added.
‘We are ruined’
Andhra Pradesh has a total of 1.5 crore kirana shops, both big and small. In Hyderabad alone, this retail sector has 3 lakh registered and unregistered shops employing 15 lakh people.
“Does the government want to throw them to the streets? asks the anguished president of the Hyderabad Kirana Merchants Association, Ghanshyam Bhati. The association is opposed to FDI and believes that it would destroy the families of the entire small and marginal kirana and general store owners in the State apart from having other effects.
“The government is extending all kinds of support to the FDI. But what have they done for the development of small and marginal kirana store owners? They did not even provide loans to us. But it is not the same case with MNCs,” he said. Bhati questioned how can the State could welcome companies like US- based Walmart when countries like China, Japan, have thrown them out.
“Walmart has become bankrupt in its own country. China put it in the dustbin by saying that it would destroy the local retail sector. But the irony is that we are inviting such companies with open arms,” he said.
Bhati warned that the entire Kirana merchant associations are set to launch a massive agitation programme till the government withdraws its FDI decision.
The association held a massive agitation on September 20. Hyderabad’s largest retail outlet — Metro Cash Carry India, one of India’s leading international trading and retail company also welcomed the move and said that FDI in retail would benefit the State.
Meanwhile, efforts are on to mobilise farmers too to make the resistance strong.