8 Dec 2012

Foreign retail competition bill approved in India

8:39 am on 8 December 2012

A decision by the government in India to open the retail sector to foreign competition has now received full parliamentary backing.

A total of 123 MPs in the upper house voted in favour and 109 opposed it.

On Wednesday, the Congress party won a vote on the decision in the lower house.

The BBC reports the win will help the government push ahead with further economic reforms to bolster India's slowing economy.

Friday's win in the upper house came after 15 MPs from the Bahujan Samaj Party, a regional party, voted with the government, which does not have a majority in the chamber.

The BSP said it supported the government because the move was not binding on states.

The party walked out before the vote in the lower house on Wednesday, helping the government win.

The BBC reports that before the vote in the upper house on Friday, MPs from Samajwadi Party, a regional party, walked out of parliament - bringing down the margin for victory.

Under the move, global companies, such as Walmart and Tesco, are to be permitted to buy up to a 51% stake in multi-brand retailers in India.

The government and business leaders argue that it will boost the economy and transform the way Indians shop.