CPI(M) against allowing foreign players to own 49% stake in AI

Cabinet allows 100% FDI in single brand retail via automatic route

Cabinet allows 100% FDI in single brand retail via automatic route

Government has put in place an investor friendly policy on FDI, under which FDI up to 100 per cent, is permitted on the automatic route in most sectors/ activities.

Divestment of stake in Air India is a hot potato and is being driven by no less than the Prime Minister's Office.

The move is meant to "liberalise and simplify the FDI policy to provide ease of doing business in the country", the government said, adding that the relaxed policy will lead to more investment and improve income and employment. In that booklet, the BJP had also pointed to global experience of how companies like Walmart destroyed local manufacturing in countries that opened FDI in retail.

State-owned British Airways and Australia's Qantas were privatised, which also saw revival of their fortunes.

Last year, the Union Cabinet gave its in-principal approval for disinvestment of Air India and constituted an inter-ministerial group to chalk out the strategy for its stake sale.

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The Union Cabinet on Wednesday allowed foreign airlines to invest upto 49 per cent under approval route in Air India.

"Extant FDI policy on SBRT allows 49% FDI under automatic route, and FDI beyond 49% and up to 100% through Government approval route".

"Another is that it (Air India) has (now) come up on par with other airlines within the country".

The Sangh Parivar affiliates, the likes of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Laghu Udyog Bharati, outfits that have consistently opposed FDI in most sectors, said they needed more time to study the cabinet decisions.

"Substantial ownership and effective control of Air India shall continue to be vested in Indian national", the release said.

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Foreign investments in Air India, including that of overseas airlines, should not exceed 49% either directly or indirectly.

"This step to liberalise FDI in retail trade will have harmful consequences for domestic retail traders and shopkeepers", a statement from the Communist Party of India-Marxist said".

The government said that the decision would help provide ease of doing business and also lead to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, income and employment.

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. However, this is a superficial clause since the government is the one selling the stake and it would be only too happy to sell a 49 percent stake to a foreign airline.

This condition was relaxed subject to certain conditions. "So, lets see where it takes us", the minister said.

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"They are now actually private sector airlines because the private sector can run airlines far better than government running them". We have to examine the government's decision closely. The FDI provision was earlier available for all Indian airlines except Air India. "Do the opposite on gaining power", said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on Twitter.

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