Cabinet approves 100pc FDI in single brand retail, construction; 49pc in AI

Existing rules allow foreign airlines to own as much as 49% in an Indian airline with the exception of Air India

The government also allowed 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail via automatic route and eased a rule on 30 percent mandatory local sourcing of products for five fiscal years after the opening of the first Indian store.

Futures Enterprises was up 5.11% at Rs 49.40, Avenue Supermarts (+1.38% at Rs 1,248.25), Shoppers Stop (+2.01% at Rs 546.05), and Trent (+1.15% at Rs 344.15).

On Wednesday the cabinet rubber-stamped plans to allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49 percent in Air India, subject to government approval.

The present FDI policy on single brand retail trading allows 49 per cent FDI under automatic route and FDI beyond 49 per cent and up to 100 per cent through government approval route.

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Substantial ownership and effective control of Air India shall continue to be vested in an Indian national, a government release said. These are meant to liberalise and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business in the country.

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The CPI-M asked the government to heed the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture which asked the government to review its decision on privatization of Air India and provide five years to revive the airline with its debt written off.

In the recent past, the Government has brought FDI policy reforms in a number of sectors viz. Defence, Pension, Insurance, Other Financial Services, Asset Reconstruction Companies, Construction Development, Broadcasting, Civil Aviation, Pharmaceuticals, Trading etc.

In turn, it will lead to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, income and employment, the government said in a statement. However, this provision was presently not applicable to Air India, thereby implying that foreign airlines could not invest in Air India.

The approval through automatic route is aimed at further quickening the FDI clearance process and many foreign players may now enter the Indian market this advantage of this.

Hours after the cabinet approved 100% FDI in retail and construction through the automatic route, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has strongly opposed the move by the government. However, it added the policy had so far restricted FII/FPI purchases restricted to secondary market only.

During 2015-16, the country received total FDI of USA $ 55.46 billion. "In the financial year 2016-17, total FDI of U.S. $ 60.08 billion has been received, which is an all-time high", the statement said. Further, it has also been made a decision to amend the definition of "medical devices" as contained in the FDI Policy. "The industry was saddled with differing views and interpretations on this count, and this should now ease the pain for existing worldwide players, as well as provide clarity for future JVs and wholly owned presence in India". A special objective vehicle (SPV) will be formed, in which all the real estate and artefacts belonging to the airline will be housed, according to a ministry official.

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