"At the same time, it is important that the government ensures that airlines in India have the most conducive operating and regulatory environment to compete effectively", Albert Tjoeng, Assistant Director of Corporate Communications, (Asia Pacific) at IATA, said in a statement.
"It has now been chose to do away with this restriction and allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49% under approval route in Air India.", the release said.
However, this nod comes with two conditions - foreign investment including that of foreign Airlines should not exceed 49 per cent either directly or indirectly and substantial ownership and effective control of Air India would continue to be vested in Indian national.
Existing rules allow foreign airlines to own as much as 49% in private Indian airlines, but not in Air India.
Congress leader and former Union Minister Anand Sharma said the government should come clear on the Air India deal as to whether the national carrier's assets "worth lakhs of crores of rupees" and its route rights would also be transferred to the investor.
The government has allowed foreign portfolio investors to purchase stakes of up to 49% in power exchanges directly under the automatic routes.
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"It has now been decided that for investments in automatic route sectors, requiring approval only on the matter of investment being from country of concern, FDI applications would be processed by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) for government approval".
The government is in the process of finalising the modalities for strategic disinvestment of debt-laden Air India.
Overseas investment policy has also been liberalised in case of power exchanges, an online platform where electricity is traded.
This opens avenues for Indian firms to raise more fund from foreign investors and makes it easier for them to pursue larger domestic and global expansion strategies, Sood added.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) pointed out that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has "hypocritically reversed it position" on the issue as it was opposed to FDI in retail trade when in the opposition. "So, in a way it is not a differential treatment, rather the preference that was there (has been removed)", Raju said about the FDI norms relaxation. In the pharma sector, the Cabinet made a decision to amend the definition of medical devices in the FDI policy. "Congress is giving nation to foreigners. most parties opposed FDI but due to sword of CBI, some didn't vote & Cong won through back door!", Narendra Modi had tweeted on 5 December 2012.
Deloitte India Partner Rajat Wahi also said global brands across different categories will be aided through this, providing further options to Indian consumers and improving India's ranking in ease of doing business. Earlier the applications were processed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
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