New Delhi: Punching holes in opposition claim that FDI in retail sector would affect traders, Micro and Small Industries Minister Vayalar Ravi on Monday said the move would benefit farmers in the long run, eventually boosting the country's economy.

However, he refused to go into details on Congress-ruled Kerala's opposition to allowing of FDI in retail, saying it was the state government's prerogative but pointed out that booming shopping complexes and multi-brand stores in the state have not affected traders.

"The claim that FDI will harm farmers and small traders is not correct. The advent of malls, retail stores and shopping complexes have not badly impacted the farmers and traders. In fact, it has boosted the economy and their quality of services," Ravi, also Overseas Indian Affairs Minister, said.

He was speaking to reporters here after inaugurating the 7th Heads of Missions (HOM) conference of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Asian and African countries.

On Kerala's opposition to FDI despite the state being governed by the Congress-led UDF, Ravi said, "It's the state government's prerogative whether to allow FDI in retail or not."

The minister gave an example of how in Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala, there are shopping complexes and retail stores, but the blooming of such stores had no negative impact on the farmers and traders.

Middle-class people were benefiting with the arrival of such stores, he said.

Earlier, at the conference, Ravi said overseas remittances last year rose to USD 66.13 billion and that the number of ECR category workers going abroad had stayed stable.

Enlisting the help extended through Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF), Ravi said in the last three years, Rs 21.70 crore has been spent from the ICWF to help 19,179 overseas Indians.


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