Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that efforts to evolve consensus on the controversial decision to open up multi-brand retail to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) were on.
"We have further liberalised FDI in single brand retail, but our effort to open up the FDI in multi-brand retail trading has not been operationalised yet. We are in the process of building up consensus among the various stakeholders to take the next steps in that regard," he said.
Mukherjee was addressing a gathering of top business leaders, including from Fortune 500 firms, in Chicago on Saturday.
His comments follow Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma telling prominent business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos that the decision to put on hold FDI in multi-brand retail is "just a pause", forced by the compulsions of coalition politics.
After widespread opposition, including from its own ally, the government put on hold its decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail in November.
On the global growth scenario, Mukherjee said the world is passing through turbulent times and the lingering effects of the financial crisis have of late become more pronounced.
"We have seen that the real danger to the global economy lies in the rapid contagion through today's globally integrated financial markets...We cannot afford to have a piecemeal stop-go approach to address the issues confronting us," he said.
Talking about the Indian economy, the minister asserted it is, in some ways, better placed than many other nations to withstand a fresh round of global economic turmoil.
He said the key objective this year is "to regain the growth momentum, strengthen the moderation in headline inflation..., rejuvenate the markets and improve the business sentiments which have been at low levels for most of the last year".