New Delhi: Foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail will benefit small retailers, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Thursday rubbishing the opposition parties' claims that the overseas investments would leave millions of small traders jobless.
"It will benefit the small traders... we have protected their interests while making the policy," Sharma said at a media briefing in New Delhi.
The minister said the overseas investments would benefit all - farmers, consumers as well as the small retailers.
Sharma said the FDI would help reduce the wastage of food. Almost 35-40 per cent of fruits and vegetables are wasted because of poor storage facilities.
Sharma's comments came after senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the FDI would make India a nation of "sales boys" and "sales girls".
Talking to reporters here Jaitley also questioned the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's assertion that an executive decision (FDI in retail) could not be a subject for debate after the opposition demanded discussion in the Lok Sabha on FDI in retail under a rule which entails voting.
However, Sharma said the government was ready for debate on the FDI issue in the Parliament as and when opposition parties wanted, but every executive decisions could not be put for vote.
"I would have spoken on the floor of the house, but the Leader of Opposition has chosen to speak not on the floor of the house, but outside, so I am forced to speak outside (the parliament)," the commerce and industry minister said.