New policy on FDI in multi-brand retail soon: Scindia

New Delhi: The government today indicated that it will soon have a new policy on foreign direct investment (FDI) in the politically sensitive multi-brand retail sector, reports PTI.

At present, India does not allow FDI in the lucrative retail sector. The traditional retail business is dominated by kirana stores and it is estimated that about 33 million people are employed in these neighbourhood outlets across the country.

"Let me assure you that the inter-ministerial committee set up for the purpose will not take an inordinate amount of time ... there cannot be an open-ended timeline. We are monitoring the progress of the group," minister of state for commerce and industry Joytiraditya Scindia told journalists at a meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in the national capital.

A six-member committee is evaluating stakeholders' comments on a discussion paper on opening up the retail sector for FDI prepared by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the nodal department on FDI policy.

"They (the committee) are working on the feedback. There is going to be a single recommendation that will come out and then a consensus will have to be built around that before we take that in terms of a policy," Mr Scindia said.

In July, the DIPP initiated a debate on allowing FDI in the multi-brand retail sector. It received responses from stakeholders, including business chambers, WalMart India (the Indian venture of the American retail chain) and Carrefour (the French retail major), besides various departments of the government.

The concept paper favoured opening of the retail sector, subject to the creation of back-end logistics by foreign retailers setting up businesses in India.

The committee has officials from the ministries of micro, small and medium enterprises, agriculture, finance, rural development, commerce and industry and consumer affairs.

While multi-brand retail is closed for foreign investors, 51 per cent FDI is permitted in single-brand retail, while there are no restrictions on inflows in wholesale cash-and-carry business.

According to the discussion paper, the country loses more than Rs1 lakh crore annually on agri-products, like fruits and vegetables, due to lack of proper infrastructure such as cold chain storage and warehousing.

While there had been political resistance to FDI in multi-brand retail on the presumption that global players would swallow the small kirana stores, the industry has continued to pitch for allowing FDI in the business.


SEBI asks Anjaniputra Ispat to continue with open offer for IAG

Market regulator also asks company to sell 6.06 lakh shares it bought in two transactions and transfer any profit from sale to the Investor Protection Fund

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has asked Anjaniputra Ispat Ltd to continue with its open offer to buy a 20% stake in IAG Co Ltd.

In an order issued today, Dr KM Abraham, whole-time member, SEBI, said adjudication would be initiated against Anjaniputra Ispat for the delay in making the public announcement in terms of the Takeover Regulations for the acquisition of 17.8 lakh shares, or a 27.64% stake, in IAG on 19 November 2008.

SEBI also directed the company to appoint a merchant banker within 30 days to disinvest about 6.06 lakh shares that it had bought on 19 December 2008 and 3 April 2009. In case the company earned any profit by selling these shares then it would have to transfer the gain to the Investor Protection Fund of the concerned stock exchanges, the market regulator said.


Notices served to 5 firms for delays in developing coal blocks

New Delhi: A Coal India subsidiary and three firms of the OP Jindal group were served show-cause notices by the government for 'inordinate delays' in developing a coal block jointly allocated to them, reports PTI.

The coal ministry, seeking a response from the companies in a month's span for delays warned that failing this, de-allocation process should be initiated "for violation of the terms and conditions" of the allotment of Utkal-A and Gopal Prasad West coal block in Orissa.

"Various review meetings were held from time to time with the representatives of Mahanadi Coalfields, JSW Steel, Jindal Thermal Power, Jindal Stainless Steels and Shyam DRI... It was noticed that no serious efforts have been made to develop the coal blocks, even after repeated assurances," the notice said.

The companies had assured production from the block by January 2010.

"...You are hereby called upon to show cause on each milestone (lease, land acquisition, production etc) separately ...failing which it would be presumed that your company has no explanation to offer and action would be taken against your company for de-allocation," the notice sent to them said.

The OP Jindal group firms refused to comment on the issue saying they were minority holders of the block with CIL subsidiary holding 60% of the block. CIL subsidiary and Shyam DRI, however, could not be reached for their comments.

The notice is part of government's drive to weed out "non-serious" companies that have procrastinated development of allocated captive blocks.

The coal ministry has so far issued notices to 28 coal companies, including these five. It has prepared a list of 81 such firms, who were allotted captive blocks long back.


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