City divided over FDI debate

Published: 02 December, 2011 06:31 IST | Sheetal Sukhija |

While traders' associations from across the state observed a daylong bandh, Bangaloreans deliberated on the pros and cons of foreign investment in retail

While traders' associations from across the state observed a daylong bandh, Bangaloreans deliberated on the pros and cons of foreign investment in retail

As a part of the ongoing protest against the proposed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector, the city observed a trade bandh yesterday.

Members of traders' unions protest against the proposal of
introducing FDI in retail sector in the city yesterday

Led by the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as many as 26 district chambers of commerce and industry and 130 trade associations participated in the protest.

Reality check
Even as the country stands divided over the matter, MiD DAY's ground check revealed that the scales of balance in Bangalore tipped largely towards those supporting FDI in retail.

While many opposing the proposal argued that their businesses would suffer individually, others showed eagerness to embrace the imminent change with open arms.

Businesses to suffer
For Mallikarjun, a 43-year-old shopkeeper from Avenue Road, the debate started and ended with 'No'. Asked why he opted to become a naysayer, he cited several reasons.
"My father used to run this shop and he passed it on to me. I've been running this shop here for the last 25 years.

If there will be big stores where people can buy all their daily needs under one roof, who would buy from us?" he questioned.

Arguing against this was a 23-year-old salesman from a mid-segment brand. "I completed PUC two years ago and since then I've been working as a salesman at various places.
I earn barely around Rs 8,000 - Rs 10,000 per month. If a big shop is willing to hire me for the same job but with a bigger salary, why wouldn't I support this?" asked Subhash Kumar. Shashi Kumar (29), a store manager in Safina Plaza, echoed Subhash's view.

"When the IT boom took place, many people understood the growth and welcomed it. Today it is creating jobs at all levels - from a cab driver to a sophisticated techie. Similarly, the lower segment wants to rise up and if the job situation is conducive for growth - people would want to grow, albeit with training," said Kumar.

End of road?

Small and mid-segment establishments are opposing this move by the government tooth and nail.

"The entry of FDI in retail would render crores of Indians, who are into retail marketing industry, jobless. If FDI is allowed in retail sector, the state exchequer would incur a revenue loss of over Rs 90 crore.

Around 70 per cent of revenue loss would be from Bangalore urban and rural district alone," argued J R Bangera, President, FKCCI.

Brigade Road traders also argued against FDI. "We are opposing FDI as it is like letting East India Company through the backdoor. They will eat up the Indian business and that would have disastrous results.

Certainly they will offer cheaper rates than compared to us, but that will be at the cost of killing our businesses," Suhail Yusuff, Secretary, Brigade Shops and Establishment Association.

However, big chains like Big Bazaar and Star Bazaar chose to withdraw from the debate claiming that it was a wait and watch situation for them.

"We welcome the decision on opening up the retail sector. This decision would give overall boost to the entire sector.

The policy and regulatory framework will enhance the support infrastructure for organised retail in areas such
as supply chain management.

It would be a win-win situation for all segments of the industry, including small scale suppliers, consumers, farmers and retailers," said the spokesperson, Reliance Retail.

Rs 90cr
The estimated loss to the exchequer if FDI is allowed in retail sector in the state

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