Friday, 22 June, 2018

Single brand retailers, Air India get FDI boost from Union Cabinet

Representational Image Representational Image
Orlando Vargas | 11 January, 2018, 08:53

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.

A group of ministers is in the process of finalising the contours for the proposed strategic stake sale in the national carrier and expression of interest is likely to be invited from bidders soon.

The response was for queries related to the government permitting foreign airlines to have up to 49 per cent stake in Air India and whether Singapore Airlines would bid for the carrier.

Expressing similar views, Wildcraft co–founder Siddharth Sood said: "The consumer in the country will be direct beneficiary of this move as they will have access to the brands hitherto unavailable in the country as it will be much easier for the worldwide brands to set up shop in India".

In the recent past, the Government has brought FDI policy reforms in a number of sectors viz.

Under the automatic route, no approval would be required from Reserve Bank of India or central government for investment.

The cabinet approved the extension of FDI in single brand retail from 49% to cent percent in automated route.

Until now, FDI up to 49 per cent in single brand retail was permitted under automatic route, and beyond that limit, government approval was needed.

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A senior civil aviation ministry official said that allowing FDI in Air India is a "considered decision" and will send out an important message to global investors.

Foreign investments in Air India, including that of overseas airlines, should not exceed 49 per cent either directly or indirectly. "It is a pity that instead of formulating policies for the welfare, upgradation and modernisation of existing retail trade, the government is more interested in paving way for the MNCs to control and dominate the retail trade of India", National Secretary General of CAIT Praveen Khandelwal said.

"At the same time, it is important that the government ensures that airlines in India have the most conducive operating and regulatory environment to compete effectively", Albert Tjoeng, Assistant Director of Corporate Communications, (Asia Pacific) at IATA, said in a statement.

The provision was not applicable to Air India.

"Interesting-Commandeer a low valuation report, sell Air India to a crony oligarch who in turn disinvests 49 per cent to a foreign airline at hefty premium".

Air India made a loss of Rs 4,310.65 crore in 2015-16, adding to its Rs 6,280.42 crore loss in the previous financial year.

"What happens to the assets worth crores of Air India?" "The government should heed the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture, which has asked the government to review its decision on privatization of Air India and give five years to revive the airline with its debts written off", the Left party said in a statement. "Congress is giving nation to foreigners. most parties opposed FDI but due to sword of CBI, some didn't vote & Cong won through back door!", Narendra Modi had tweeted on 5 December 2012.

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