The government is moving ahead with further opening of print media, construction and retail sectors to foreign investments, and detailed deliberations in this regard were held in the finance ministry today. The commerce and industry ministry may soon approach the Union Cabinet to get the final approval on the proposals, sources said. According to them, the government is considering to relax foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in certain areas of print media. Currently, the government allows foreign investment in areas such as printing of newspapers and publishing of scientific magazines with certain conditions and FDI caps.
There is also a proposal to ease the policy in construction and development sector, under which an Indian company could be allowed to bring FDI even for undeveloped plots in any project. Currently, 100 per cent FDI is allowed in the construction sector subject to various conditions.
One of the norms is that the Indian investee company is permitted to sell only developed plots, which means plots where trunk infrastructure – roads, water supply, street lighting, drainage and sewerage, have been made available. Sources said the government may put certain restrictions while making changes in this condition.
The whole exercise is aimed at providing investor friendly climate to foreign players and in turn attract more FDI to boost economic growth and create jobs. The government is also mulling easing policy in single brand and multi-brand retail trading. There is a consideration to allow 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail sector through automatic route with certain conditions.
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Currently, FDI up to 49 per cent is permitted under the automatic route but beyond that limit, government’s nod is required.
Further, the government is weighing the option of permitting overseas retailers to open stores for selling ‘Made in India’ products.
Besides, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is pitching to permit FDI in non-food items, along with food products, under the multi-brand retail policy. She wants that foreign players should be allowed to sell non-food items along with food products processed and manufactured in India under the FDI in food policy.
The easing of the policy will be on the lines of the announcements made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget for 2017-18. The government last year relaxed FDI norms in over a dozen sectors, including defence, civil aviation, construction and development, private security agencies, real estate and news broadcasting.
Foreign investments are considered crucial for India, which needs around $1 trillion for overhauling its infrastructure sector such as ports, airports and highways to boost growth. Foreign investments will help improve the country’s balance of payments situation and strengthen the rupee value against other global currencies, especially the US dollar.