Budget 2021: Govt’s Claim of a Sharp Increase in Capital Expenditure Doesn’t Really Hold

Good analysis takes time.

It’s been three days since the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the annual budget of the union government and now my brain has really opened up and can see things that it couldn’t earlier.

On February 2, I wrote a piece which basically looked in detail at the fiscal deficit of 9.5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and why the government’s claim of spending more this year and the next, to become the spender of the last resort and get the economy going again, didn’t really hold.

This piece is basically an extension of the same idea. Ideally, you should read the February 2 piece before you read this. Nevertheless, this piece is also complete on its own and if you are short on time, then just reading this piece should be enough to understand what I am trying to say.

One of the claims made by the finance minister in her budget speech was that the government was increasing the capital expenditure this year and the next. The mainstream media and the stock market wallahs have also tom tommed this line over the last few days. Nevertheless, as my analysis shows, this claim doesn’t really hold to the extent it is being made out to be.

As the finance minister said in her speech:

“In the BE 2020-21, we had provided Rs 4.12 lakh crores for capital expenditure. It was our effort that in spite of resource crunch we should spend more on capital and we are likely to end the year at around Rs 4.39 lakh crores which I have provided in the RE 2020-21. For 2021-22, I propose a sharp increase [emphasis added] in capital expenditure and thus have provided Rs 5.54 lakh crores which is 34.5% more than the BE of 2020-21.”

Let’s try and understand what the finance minister is saying here pointwise. (BE = budget estimate. RE = revised estimate. When the budget is presented a budget estimate is made. When the next budget is presented a revised estimate is put forward).

1) Capital expenditure is basically money spent on creating assets, in particular physical infrastructure like roads, railway lines, factories, ports, etc. Revenue expenditure is basically money spent in paying salaries and pensions, financing subsidies, etc. Over and above this, interest paid on the outstanding debt or borrowings of the government, is also a part of revenue expenditure. In fact, interest payments on outstanding debt are the biggest expenditure in the union budget. In 2020-21, it forms 20% of the total government expenditure and it jumps to 23.3% in 2021-22.

The usefulness of capital expenditure made by the government can be experienced in the years to come as well and it is believed that it adds to economic activity more than the revenue expenditure. Hence, economists, journalists and policy analysts, while analysing the union budget like to look at the money that has been allocated towards capital expenditure.

2) In 2019-20, the government spent Rs 3.36 lakh crore on capital expenditure. In 2020-21, it is expected to end up spending Rs 4.39 lakh crore, which is 30.7% more. But the thing to understand here is that when the government presented the budget for this financial year in February 2020, it had already budgeted to spend Rs 4.12 lakh crore or around 22.6% more.

It is worth remembering that when the budget for this financial year was presented, the fear of covid and the negative impact it would have on the economy, hadn’t been realised as yet. In the aftermath of covid, the capital expenditure went up from the budgeted Rs 4.12 lakh crore (or the budget estimate) to the revised estimate (RE) of Rs 4.39 lakh crore. Hence, the post covid increase in capital expenditure has been around 6.6%.

Given this, the increase in capital expenditure in 2020-21 had already been budgeted for pre-covid and there was a small increase post-covid. Once we know this, things don’t sound as exciting as the finance minister made it sound in her budget speech.

3) How will things look in 2021-22 when it comes to capital expenditure? The finance minister said that the capital expenditure will grow by 34.5% to Rs 5.54 lakh crore in 2021-22 in comparison to the budgeted expenditure of Rs 4.12 lakh crore in 2020-21.

The question is why would you compare next year’s budget estimate with the current year’s budget estimate when the revised estimate number for the year is already available. You would only do it, if you wanted to show a higher jump. Anyway, the finance minister of a country should be using some better mathematical tricks than such an elementary one.

Also, even when we compare next year’s budgeted capital expenditure with this year’s revised one, the jump is substantial. The capital expenditure will jump from Rs 4.39 lakh crore to Rs 5.54 lakh crore. This is a jump of 26.2%, which looks to be very good.

4) So far so good. The trouble is that the finance minister just spoke about the budgeted capital expenditure of the government in her budget speech and not the total capital expenditure of government. You can click on this and go to page 8 to get the numbers for the total capital expenditure of the government, which are also published in the budget.

The total capital expenditure of the government includes what is in the budget plus internal and extra budgeted resources (IEBR). The IEBR consists of money raised by the public sector enterprises owned by the union government through profits, loans as well as equity, for capital expenditure. It also includes the Indian Railways. This is also a part of government’s overall capital expenditure though it is off-budget and not a part of it.

The total capital expenditure of the government in 2019-20 stood at Rs 9,77,280 crore (It will soon become clear why I am using full numbers and not representing them in lakh crore). The revised estimate for the total capital expenditure in 2020-21 stood at Rs 10,84,651 crore, which is around 11% more. A 11% jump year on year sounds decent.

Nevertheless, one needs to take into account the fact that the budgeted capital expenditure of the union government when the budget for this year was presented in February 2020 had stood at Rs 10,84,748 crore.

As I said earlier, the budget was presented before covid struck. In that sense, the revised capital expenditure of 2020-21 is actually slightly lower than the budgeted one. This again punctures the government’s claim of spending more to get the economy going again post covid. They are spending a tad lower than what they had planned to spend before covid struck.

5) How does 2021-22 look? The government is planning to spend Rs 11,37,067 crore towards capital expenditure. This is 4.8% more than the current financial year. This when the government expects the nominal gross domestic product (GDP), not adjusted for inflation, to jump by 14.4% during 2021-22. The Economic Survey expects the nominal GDP to jump by 15.4%.

Once this is taken into account, it is safe to say that if the government sticks to these numbers, there will be barely any increase in capital expenditure between this year and the next.

Of course, the narrative of the government increasing its capital expenditure has been set. That’s what we have been told over and over again over the last few days. The stock market seems to believe it as well.

This entire exercise also tells you how nuanced numbers can get once you start really digging them up and setting them up in the right context. This is something you won’t see much in the mainstream media. Given this, it is very important that you please continue supporting my writing.

PS: I would like to thank, Sreejith Balasubramanian, Economist – Fund Management, IDFC AMC, whose research note on the budget, helped me think through this issue, in a much better way.

Did RBI just hint that Indian corporates have reached Ponzi stage of finance?

The Reserve Bank of India(RBI) releases the Financial Stability Report twice a year. The second report for this year was released yesterday (i.e. December 23, 2015). Buried in this report is a very interesting box titled In Search of Some Old Wisdom. In this box, the RBI has resurrected the economist Hyman Minsky. Minsky has been rediscovered by the financial world in the years that have followed the financial crisis which started with the investment bank Lehman Brothers going bust in September 2008.

So what does the RBI say in this box? “When current wisdom does not offer solutions to extant problems, old wisdom can sometimes be helpful. For instance, the global financial crisis compelled us to take a look at the Minsky’s financial stability hypothesis which posited the debt accumulation by non-government sector as the key to economic crisis.”

And what is Minsky’s financial stability hypothesis? Actually Minsky put forward the financial instability hypothesis and not the financial stability hypothesis as the RBI points out. I know I am nit-picking here but one expects the country’s central bank to get the name of an economic theory right. I guess given that the name of the report is the Financial Stability Report, someone mixed the words “stability” and “instability”.

The basic premise of this hypothesis is that when times are good, there is a greater appe­tite for risk and banks are willing to extend riskier loans than usual. Businessmen and entrepreneurs want to expand their businesses, which leads to increased investment and corporate profits.

Initially, banks only lend to businesses that are expected to gen­erate enough cash to repay their loans. But as time progresses, the competition between lenders increases and caution is thrown to winds. Money is doled out left, right, and centre and normally it doesn’t end well.

This is the basic premise of the financial instability hypothesis. In this column I will explain that the Indian corporates have reached what Minsky called the Ponzi stage of finance.  Minsky essentially theorised that there are three stages of borrowings. The RBI’s box in the Financial Stability Report explains these three stages. Nevertheless, a better explanation can be found in L Randall Wray’s new book, Why Minsky Matters—An Introduction to the Work of a Maverick Economist.

As Wray writes: “Minsky developed a famous classification for fragility of financing positions. The safest is called “hedge” finance (note that this term is not related to so-called hedge funds). In a hedge position, expected income is sufficient to make all payments as they come due, including both interest and principal.” Hence, in the hedge position the company taking on loans is making enough money to pay interest on the debt as well as repay it.

What is the second stage? As Wray writes: “A “speculative” position is one in which expected income is sufficient to make interest payments, but principal must be rolled over. It is “speculative” in the sense that income must increase, continued access to refinancing must be expected, or an asset must be sold to cover principal payments.”

Hence, in a speculative position, a company is making enough money to keep paying interest on the loan that it has taken on, but it has no money to repay the principal amount of the loan. In order to repay the principal, the income of the company has to go up. Or banks need to agree to refinance the loan i.e. give a fresh loan so that the current loan can be repaid. The third option is for the company to start selling its assets in order to repay the principal amount of the loan.

And what is the third stage? As Wray writes: “Finally, a “Ponzi” position (named after a famous fraudster, Charles Ponzi, who ran a pyramid scheme—much like Bernie Madoff’s more recent fraud”) is one in which even interest payments cannot be met, so that the debtor must borrow to pay interest (the outstanding loan balance grows by the interest due).”

Hence, in the Ponzi position, the company is not making enough money to be able to pay the interest that is due on its loans. In order to pay the interest, it has to take on more loans. This is why Minsky called it a Ponzi position.

Charles Ponzi was a fraudster who ran a financial scheme in Boston, United States, in 1919. He promised to double the investors’ money in 90 days. This was later shortened to 45 days. There was no business model in place to generate returns. All Ponzi did was to take money from new investors and handed it over to old investors whose investments had to be redeemed. His game got over once the money leaving the scheme became higher than the money being invested in it.

Along similar lines once companies are not in a position to pay interest on their loans they need to borrow more. This new money coming in helps them repay the loans as well as pay interest on it. And until they can keep borrowing more they can keep paying interest and repaying their loans. Hence, the entire situation is akin to a Ponzi scheme.

By now, dear reader, you must be wondering, why have I been rambling on about a single box in the RBI’s Financial Stability Report and an economist called Hyman Minsky.

In RBI’s Financial Stability Report the box stands on its own. But is the RBI dropping hints here? Of course, you don’t expect the central bank of a country to directly say that a large section of its corporates have reached the Ponzi stage of finance. And there are many others operating in the speculative stage of finance. Even without the RBI saying it directly, there is enough evidence to establish the same.

In the report RBI points out that as on September 30, 2015, the bad loans (gross non-performing advances) of banks were at 5.1% of total advances of scheduled commercial banks operating in India. The number was at 4.6% as on March 31, 2015. This is a huge jump of 50 basis points in a period of just six months.

The restructured loans of banks fell to 6.2% of total advances from 6.4% in March 2015.  A restructured loan is a loan on which the interest rate charged by the bank to the borrower has been lowered. Or the borrower has been given more time to repay the loan i.e. the tenure of the loan has been increased. In both cases the bank has to bear a loss.

The stressed loans of banks, obtained by adding the bad loans and the restructured loans, came in at 11.3% of total advances. They were at 11.1% in March 2015.
The numbers for the government owned public sector banks were much worse. The stressed loans of public sector banks stood at 14.1%. In March 2015, this number was at 13.2%. This is a significant jump in a period of just six months. The stressed loans of private sector banks stood at a very low 4.6% of total advances.

Let’s look at the stressed loans of public sector banks over a period of time. In March 2011, the number was at 6.6% of total advances. By March 2012, it had jumped to 8.8% of total advances. Now it is at 14.1%.

What is happening here? Banks are clearly kicking the can down the road by restructuring more loans, because many corporates are clearly not in a position to repay their bank loans. Why do I say that? As the Mid-Year Economic Review published by the Ministry of Finance last week points out: “Corporate balance sheets remain highly stressed. According to analysis done by Credit Suisse, for non – financial corporate sector (based on ~ 11000 companies in the CMIE database as of FY2014 and projections done for FY2015 based on a sample of 3700 companies), the number of companies whose interest cover is less than 1 has not declined significantly (this number was 1003 in September 2014 and is 994 in September 2015 quarter).”

Interest coverage ratio is essentially obtained by dividing the earnings before interest and taxes(operating profit) of a company during a given period, by the interest that it needs to pay on the loans that it has taken on.

In the Indian case, a significant section of the corporates have an interest coverage ratio of less than 1. This means that they are not earning enough to even pay the interest on their outstanding loans.

Further, the weighted average interest coverage ratio of all companies in the sample as on September 2015 was at 2.3. It was at 2.5 in September 2014. As the Mid-Year Economic Review points out: “Research indicates that an interest cover of below 2.5 for larger companies and below 4 for smaller companies is considered below investment grade.”

What this means that many corporates now are not in a position to even pay interest on their loans. They need newer loans to repay interest on their loans. They have reached the Ponzi stage of finance, as Minsky had decreed. Still others are in the speculative stage.

The RBI Financial Stability Report again hints at this without stating it directly. As the report points out: “Bank credit to the industrial sector accounts for a major share of their overall credit portfolio as well as stressed loans. This aspect of asset quality is related to the issue of increasing leverage of Indian corporates. While capital expenditure (capex) in the private sector is a desirable proposition for a fast growing economy like India, it is observed that the capex which had gone up sharply has been coming down despite rising debt. During this period, profitability and as a consequence, the debt-servicing capacity of companies has, seen a decline. These trends may be indicative of halted projects, rising debt levels per unit of capex, overall rise in debt burden with poor recoveries on resources employed.”

What the central bank does not say is that rising debt without a rising capital expenditure may also be indicative of the fact that newer loans are being taken on in order to pay off older loans as well as pay interest on the outstanding loans. The public sector banks are issuing newer loans because if they don’t corporates will start defaulting and the total amount of bad loans will go up even further.

In such a scenario, the public sector banks have also been helping corporates by restructuring more and more loans. By doing this they are essentially postponing the problem. A restructured loan is not a bad loan. Further, around 40% of restructured loans between 2011 and 2014 have turned into bad loans.

All this hints towards a large section of Indian corporates operating in what Minsky referred to as a Ponzi stage of finance. Many corporates are also in the speculative stage. And given that, it’s not going to end well.

(Vivek Kaul is the author of the Easy Money trilogy. He tweets @kaul_vivek)

The column originally appeared on SwarajyaMag on December 24, 2015

Jaitley may end up doing a Chidambaram to meet fiscal deficit target


In yesterday’s column I had explained how the fiscal deficit of the government of India between April and October 2014 was at its highest level since 1998. Fiscal deficit is the difference between what a government earns and what it spends.
This despite the fact global oil prices have been falling for a while now. This has not helped the government primarily because like his predecessors the current finance minister Arun Jaitley also assumed a low oil subsidy number at the time he presented the budget in July 2014.
When the previous finance minister P Chidambaram presented the budget for the financial year 2013-2014, he assumed that Rs 65,000 crore would be spent towards oil subsidy. The actual number came in at Rs 85,480 crore, which was 31.5% higher.
This has been standard operating procedure for finance ministers over the years, where they start with a low oil subsidy number at the beginning of the year and end up spending much more by the time the year ends. What this does is that it makes the fiscal deficit number look more respectable at the time the budget is presented.
Jaitley did the same thing as his predecessor by assuming that oil subsidy for the year would work out to Rs 63,426.95 crore. This despite the fact that subsidies worth Rs 35,000 crore which were to be paid in 2013-2014, had been postponed to this financial year. So, in effect Jaitley only had a little more than Rs 28,400 crore to play around with on the oil subsidy front.
Oil prices started falling a few months back. This wasn’t known at the time the budget was presented in July earlier this year. In the budget it was assumed that oil prices
would average at $110 per barre during the course of this financial year. As on December 10, 2014, the price of the Indian basket of crude oil stood at $63.16 per barrel.
Given that, Jaitley assumed a lower number to start with, the government is not going to benefit on the fiscal deficit front, due to a fall in oil prices. As Neelkanth Mishra and Ravi Shankar of Credit Suisse write in a recent research note titled
2015 Outlook: Growth at any price?: “The…budgeted amount for fuel subsidies (Rs 63,400 crore, 0.5% of GDP)…may not change much for financial year 2014-2015, as Rs35,000 crore of the oil subsidy is already spent.”
The analysts also wrote that there won’t be much change in the fertiliser subsidy amount of close to Rs 73,000 crore, as well. Mishra and Shankar write that “it will be difficult for the government to reduce food subsidies”.
Given this, Jaitley isn’t really in a position to cut down subsidies. What he will have to do is to start cutting down on plan expenditure, like Chidambaram had done. As I had explained in yesterday’s piece, the government expenditure is categorised into two kinds—planned and non planned. Planned expenditure is essentially money that goes towards creation of productive assets through schemes and programmes sponsored by the central government.
Non-plan expenditure is an outcome of planned expenditure. For example, the government constructs a highway using money categorised as a planned expenditure. But the money that goes towards the maintenance of that highway is non-planned expenditure. Interest payments on debt, pensions, salaries, subsidies and maintenance expenditure are all non-plan expenditure.
As is obvious a lot of non-plan expenditure is largely regular expenditure that cannot be done away with. The government needs to keep paying salaries, pensions and interest on debt, on time. These expenses cannot be postponed. Hence, the asset creating plan expenditure gets slashed.
This is what the previous finance minister Chidambaram did in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. In 2012-2013, he had budgeted Rs 5,21,025 crore towards plan expenditure. The final expenditure came in 20.6% lower at Rs 4,13,625 crore. In 2013-2014, the plan expenditure was budgeted at Rs 5,55,322 crore. The final expenditure came in 14.4% lower at Rs 4,75,532 crore.
This helped Chidambaram to cut down on the overall government expenditure majorly. Jaitley will have to do something similar, if he wants to achieve the fiscal deficit target of Rs 5,31,177 crore or 4.1% of GDP, that he has set.
As economists Taimur Baig, and Kaushik Das of Deutsche Bank Research write in a recent research note titled
India 2015 Outlook: Turning the cycle and structure around: “The government’s 2014-2015 fiscal deficit target of 4.1% of GDP will likely be achieved, but by cutting capital expenditure for the third straight year in a row. We estimate that the government will have to cut capital expenditure by at least Rs 70,000 crore…to make up for the significant shortfall in tax collection and disinvestment target.”
Supporters of Jaitley say that Chidambarm left him with unpaid bills of more than Rs 1,00,000 crore. Fair point. But Jaitley knew about this at the time he presented the budget. So, what stopped him from taking these unpaid bills into account while presenting the budget earlier this year?
If he had done that he wouldn’t have been able to present a fiscal deficit number of Rs 5,31,177 crore or 4.1% of GDP. The number would have been much higher. Nevertheless, that would have been the real fiscal deficit number, instead of the unrealistic and fictional number that was presented at the time of the budget. It is not surprising that Jaitley will have a tough time in meeting this number.
As I said in yesterday’s piece, the first step towards solving a problem is acknowledging that it exists. Jaitley and the BJP had an excellent opportunity to do this. And they let that go.
Another reason for the government to worry is the disinvestment target of Rs 58,400 crore. With basically three months left for the financial year to get over, the disinvestment of shares that the government owns in government and non-government companies has barely started.
As Baig and Das point out: “We expect the government to rely on disinvestments as a key source of revenue to reduce the fiscal deficit, but as seen from this year’s experience, there is no guarantee that such a strategy would work. Further, trade union activism could come in the way of the government pursuing an aggressive disinvestments/privatization agenda, which then will likely put pressure back on expenditure compression (particularly capital expenditure) to achieve the headline fiscal deficit target.”
Also, what does nothelp is the fact that growth in tax collections is nowhere near what had been assumed initially. The direct taxes (corporation and income tax primarily) were assumed to grow at 15.7%, in comparison to the last financial year. They have grown at only 5.5% between April and October 2014.
The indirect taxes (customs duty, excise duty and service tax) were supposed to grow at 20.3%. They have grown by only 5.9%
The situation clearly does not look good. And given that finance ministers do not like to miss targets they set, it is more than likely that Jaitley will now do a Chidambaram and slash asset creating plan expenditure majorly in the months to come. In fact, the plan expenditure for the first seven months of the financial year fell by 0.4% to Rs 2,66,991 crore.
As the old French saying goes: “
plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

The article originally appeared on www.equitymaster.com as a part of The Daily Reckoning, on Dec 12, 2014

Retail FDI note raises more questions than it answers

Vivek Kaul
The press note for allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) of up to 51% in multi-brand foreign retailing throws up several interesting points as well as questions.
One of the major points of the press note is that retail sales outlets may be set up only in cities with a population of more than 10 lakh as per 2011 census. There are 45 cities in India that meet this requirement.
Currently eight states, the national capital territory of Delhi and the union territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have agreed to allow FDI in multi-brand retailing. All these states are ruled by the Congress party.
But as the data from the 2011 census points out, only 20 of these 45 cities are in states that have currently agreed to FDI in muti-brand foreign retailing or big retail, as it is more popularly referred to as.
Interestingly, the Census of India has two classifications. One is cities having population 1 lakh and above. And another is urban agglomerations/cities having population 1 lakh and above. As per the former India has 45 cities of population which have a population of 10 lakh or more. As per the latter India has 53 cities/urban agglomerations which have a population of 10 lakh or more.
For the sake of this analysis the former has been used because the press note uses the word “cities” very clearly and not cities/urban agglomerations.  But even if one works with the assumption of 53 cities, the analysis that follows doesn’t change much. Nevertheless, the government needs to clear this confusion on which version of the census applies here.
The state of Maharashtra leads the pack with 10 cities out of the 20 cities which qualify for big retail. These are Aurangabad, Kalyan-Dombivilli, Navi Mumbai, Mumbai, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune Nagpur, Nashik, Thane and Vasai-Virar.  Hyderabad, Vijaywada and Vishakapatnam are the three cities that meet the criteria in Andhra Pradesh. Kota, Jaipur and Jodhpur are the three cities in Rajasthan. Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, Faridabad in Haryana (and not the fancied Gurgaon which has a population of 876,824 as per the 2011 census), New Delhi and Chandigarh are the four other cities that make the list. Chandigarh is the capital of Haryana, which has agreed to allow FDI in big retail. But it is also the capital of the state of Punjab, which hasn’t.
What is interesting is that 50% of the cities eligible for big retail are in one state i.e. Maharashtra. It also means that there are no cities in Assam, Manipur and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli which meet the criteria of population of more than 10 lakh.
To get around this problem the note allows companies to be set up retail sales outlets in the cities of their choice, preferably the largest city, in states/ union territories not having cities with population of more than 10 lakh as per 2011 Census.
But the most interesting part of the note is that most of the policies elucidated in the note are only enabling in nature. Hence, governments in states and union territories are free to make their own policies. This means that it is very well possible that states might allow big retail to set shop in places with a population of less than 10 lakh. What stops the state of Haryana from allowing big retail presence in the city of Gurgaon?  Or Maharashtra allowing big retail in Mira Road-Bhayander which has a population of 8,14,655 as per the 2011 census. The same can be said about Secunderabad, which is Hyderabad’s twin city, and Jammu which is the second largest city in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Another point in the note is that at least 50% of total FDI brought in shall be invested in ‘backend infrastructure’ within three years of the first tranche of FDI. The note doesn’t specify whether this investment is to be limited in states that have allowed big retail. So the conclusion is that this investment can be made all across India. But here is where practical problems might crop up.
A company like Wal-Mart to may set up backend infrastructure in a state like Himachal Pradesh to source apples. But as we know Himachal Pradesh isn’t on the list of states that have allowed FDI in big retail. So we will end up with a situation where big retail is present in a state at the backend but at the same time it’s not allowed to set up a front end retail store. That would not be an ideal situation.
Another major problem can crop up because of the decision being currently left to the states. The states that have agreed to big retail are all Congress ruled (except Kerala which is ruled by the Congress led United Democratic Front but hasn’t said yes to big retail). Now what happens if the Congress party loses the next elections in these states? Can the party or front which comes to power reverse the earlier decision?
The note also points out that the government will have the first right to procurement of agricultural products. What is implied by this? At the same time the note points out that at least 30% of the value of procurement of manufactured/processed products purchased, shall be sourced from Indian ‘small industries’ which have a total investment in plant & machinery not exceeding US $1 million.  This will be a huge problem for big retail companies which play on economies of scale.
But at the same time the note is silent on international procurement of goods and products by these companies. This means that companies which invest in big retail can source their products internationally. Hence, a Wal-Mart can source products for the Indian market from China. “More than 70% of the goods sold in Wal-Mart stores around the world are made in China,” point out Garry Gereffi and Ryan Ong in a case study titled Wal-Mart in China which was published in the Harvard Asia Pacific Review. Sourcing from China has been the backbone of Wal-Mart’s everyday low pricing strategy.
The state governments that allow FDI in big retail can change any of the policies mentioned above and frame their own policies because these policies are only enabling in nature. The only part that they cannot change is retail trading by means of e-commerce.
(The article originally appeared in the Daily News and Analysis on September 24, 2012. http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report_retail-fdi-note-raises-more-questions-than-it-answers_1744390)
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected])