Cong Won't Support Easing of FDI Norms in Defence: Sharma

New Delhi
Cong Won't Support Easing of FDI Norms in Defence: Sharma

Noting that "there is no national consensus" on easing of FDI norms in the defence sector, Congress today said it would not support the move as "we cannot have those checks removed" in such a sensitive sector.

Interacting with reporters here, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "We make it clear this will not be supported, there is no national consensus. We are for FDI, we are for FDI in defence also but we cannot have those checks removed in a sensitive sector like defence. We cannot have scrutiny and cabinet committee approval done away with."

He said the erstwhile UPA-II government had increased FDI in defence to 49 per cent but there was a condition that there would be scrutiny by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) approval.

"This government has dispensed with any FIPB scrutiny or CCS approval for FDI up to 49 per cent and put it under automatic route," Sharma said, adding that his party opposes this decision firmly.

The government had on November 11 relaxed foreign direct investment norms in the defence sector by allowing FDI up to 49 per cent under automatic route and beyond that through the FIPB's approval. It had also done away with the earlier requirement of mandatory permission from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) beyond 49 per cent.

The Congress leader said that while an impression was being given that these are just executive decisions but the government is obliged to come to Parliament also.

"Once the FDI policy decisions are made, it's mandatory that RBI will come up with a FEMA notification, which the government is obliged to table in both Houses of Parliament. And Parliament alone would ratify those notifications, both Houses independently," Sharma, who is the Congress' deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, said.

"We equally have concerns about the opening up of the media sector, particularly the news and current affairs. In raising the FDI, it shall be opposed. We don't want to create monopolies, we don't want foreign media moguls to come and control Indian media, particularly news and current affairs," Sharma added.

He said it was also perhaps the first time such decisions had been taken without cabinet approval, which would be acquired later. "After the achievements in Bihar election, and before going to London, the Prime Minister has taken these decisions, perhaps to demonstrate that he has vision," Sharma said.


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