New Delhi: The government has not taken a decision on opening up the supermarket sector to foreign investors, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday, continuing a stalemate on the long-awaited reform that will open the door to Wal-Mart and Carrefour.
India restricts foreign firms to operating wholesale outlets or single-brand stores. Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma last month said the government was close to a decision on letting them enter the multi-brand sector as well.
“Government has not taken any decision,” Mukherjee told Parliament during a discussion on allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail stores.
“The problem is a very complex one ... A large number of people are involved in it (the sector),” he said.
Organized retail makes up just 6% of India’s $450 billion retail sector and there is political opposition to open up a sector that provides livelihoods for hundreds of thousands and serves a market of more than 1 billion.
Wal-Mart has said it is ready to open hundreds of retail outlets if rules are liberalized. In October, chief executive Mike Duke had said he was very positive the rules would be eased after meeting Indian officials.
Wal-Mart operates five wholesale outlets in India in partnership with agriculture-to-telecoms group Bharti Enterprise. Carrefour last year opened its first India wholsesale outlet.