Union Cabinet approves committee to probe Wal-Mart's lobbying activities

New Delhi, Jan.24 (ANI): The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the appointment of a one-man Committee into the media reports concerning Wal-Mart.

The terms of reference of the Committee are as follows:-

(i) To inquire into recent media reports on disclosures of Wal-Mart before the US Senate regarding their lobbying activities and details.

(ii) Whether Wal-mart undertook any activities in India in contravention of any Indian law.

(iii) Any other matter relevant or incidental to the above.

The Committee will submit its report within three months.

Media reported last month that Wal-Mart, which had been waiting for years to open its supermarkets in India, has been lobbying with the US lawmakers since 2008 to facilitate its entry into the highly lucrative Indian market.

As per the lobbying disclosure reports filed by Walmart with the US Senate, the company has spent close to 25 million dollars (about Rs 125 crore) since 2008 on its various lobbying activities, including on the issues related to "enhanced market access for investment in India".

In the last quarter ended September 30 itself, the company spent 1.65 million dollars on various lobbying issues, which included "discussions related to FDI in India".

During the quarter, Wal-Mart lobbied for its case with the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the US Trade Representative and the US Department of State, as per its latest quarterly disclosure report.

The companies are allowed to lobby for their cases in various departments and agencies in the US, but they are required to file their lobbying disclosure reports every quarter with the US Senate.

So far in 2012, Wal-Mart has spent over three million dollars on its various lobbying activities, including those related to India. As per its disclosure reports, the company has continuously lobbied for its India entry since 2008, except for a few quarters in 2009.

The Indian retail market is estimated to be worth about 500 billion dollars currently, and is pegged to cross the one trillion mark by 2020, given the rise in personal incomes. (ANI)

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