Congress accused opposition of trying to score political points by objecting to FDI in retail and asserted that the decision would benefit farmers, small scale industries, youth and consumers in the country. Articulating the party's position during debate on the issue in Lok Sabha, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal also charged BJP and Left parties with ignoring "ground reality" and helping commission agents.
"Purpose of the policy is that the farmers should get a higher price for their produce than they get in the mandi (wholesale market). It will abolish middlemen system," he said citing an example in a West Bengal district where MNC Pepsico procured potato directly from farmers. He said commission agents are the real beneficiaries in the present system and farmers get only 15 to 17 per cent amount for their produce.
"They (opposition) have to understand whether they are with the middlemen.... You are with the middlemen," Sibal said amid vociferous protests by opposition. He said the policy will strengthen the country's infrastructure sector. "The foreign investor has to invest USD 100 million out of which USD 50 million has to be invested for infrastructure development," he said.
Sibal said the country's small scale industry sector will benefit from the policy as there is a provision that 30 per cent of procurement should be done from this sector. "If he (the investor) doesn't get it from MSME sector, he will lose it," the senior Congress leader said. In a scathing attack, Sibal said BJP in its 2004 manifesto had announced 26 per cent FDI in the country.