German wholesale retailer, Metro Cash & Carry, will be able to proceed with its plans in Kolkata, Left Front constituents decided today in a 3-hour meeting.
Left Front constituent Forward Bloc, which runs West Bengal's agriculture marketing board, and CPI-M leaders, on Sunday decided to renew Metro Cash & Carry's Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee licence on October 10.
However, to protect small traders in the city, the State Agriculture Marketing Board will impose certain conditions on Metro, the modalities of which will be decided in the intervening period.
FB and CPI-M leaders today met Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to discuss the issue and resolve their differences.
At a press conference after the meeting, Biman Bose, chairman of Left Front in West Bengal, announced, "We have agreed to renew Metro's APMC licence which will be issued by the State Agriculture Marketing Board on October 10.
"The district magistrate of South 24 Parganas, who was earlier asked by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to issue the APMC licence to Metro, will no longer need to issue it."
In a press statement after the meeting, Metro Cash & Carry said: "We have just received the news that we will be given the APMC license on October 10. We will wait for the official communication for the APMC licence."
Bose added, "The Forward Bloc leaders will not boycott the Writers Building and will join office from Monday, as differences have been resolved. Also, in future, whenever any multinational company expresses willingness to do business in West Bengal, we will hold similar meetings to avoid any misunderstandings within government leaders."
The State Agriculture Marketing Board will meet CPI-M leaders again between now and October 10 to decide on the conditions that will be imposed on Metro and subsequently will be communicated to the company.
Martin Dlouhy, managing director, Metro Cash & Carry, India, had earlier said that the company would be able to open its centre in Kolkata within two months from the date of APMC licence renewal.
So far in Kolkata, Metro Cash & Carry has invested Rs 140 crore (Rs 1.4 billion) and has employed 350 people in one centre alone.
Metro said the company is ready with infrastructure, spread over 1,00,000 lakh sq ft, on Kolkata's Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. The operation was affected as APMC licence, which was withdrawn in June 2007, has not been renewed.
Metro plans to open a total of four cash and carry centres in Kolkata alone entailing an investment of about Rs 564 crore (Rs 5.64 billion), employing 1,400 directly and another 600 indirectly.
Metro Cash & Carry is present in 29 countries with over 615 self-service wholesale centres. With more than 100,000 employees worldwide, the company achieved sales of Euro31.7 billion in 2007.