The decisions taken by the Union Cabinet come ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos where he will hold discussions with CEOs of top multinational companies on the investment opportunities being thrown open in India.
Swadeshi Jagran Manch has also expressed its deep displeasure about government decision to allow 40% foreign investment in Air India.
The existing policy on Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT) allows 49 per cent FDI under automatic route, and FDI up to 100 per cent through government approval route.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) on Thursday denounced the decision of the government to allow 49 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in Air India and said it was aimed at expediting the privatisation of the national carrier.
The amendments are meant to liberalise and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business.
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However, the Government has clarified that "FDI in Air India including that of foreign Airlines should not exceed 49% either directly or indirectly and substantial ownership and effective control of the national carrier will continue to remain in Indian national". Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said that 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail was notified during the previous UPA government and the only change made is to allow it through the automatic route.
While India has seen its economy slowing recently, it has managed to secure a lot of foreign capital even without the new opportunities in place for entrepreneurs from overseas. Overseas investment policy has also been liberalised in case of power exchanges.
This is the second time that the FDI policy has been changed by the current government. However, foreign investors' purchases were restricted to the secondary market only.
"Global brands across different categories, from apparel to electronics to accessories will be aided through this, providing further options to Indian consumers and improving India?s ranking in ease of doing business", he added.
However, the government has yet to liberalise norms for multi-brand retail to enable large worldwide retail chains to invest and bring latest technologies to India.
"Allowing 100% FDI under automatic route for the Single Brand retail will provide impetus to the development of infrastructural capabilities like warehousing and assist in creation of a well-organized and agile retail supply chains", said Anil Khaitan.