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Walmart lobbying issue creates uproar in Parliament Last Updated : 10 Dec 2012 03:01:24 PM IST File Photo
The Rajya Sabha was on Monday adjourned till 14.00 hrs following massive uproar by BJP-led Opposition over Wallmart lobbying disclosure.
The issue of FDI in retail came to haunt the government again in Parliament with a united Opposition demanding an inquiry and reply from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on reports of Wal-Mart spending huge money to lobby for entry into the Indian market.
Forcing two adjournments in the Rajya Sabha before lunch, members from BJP, CPI-M, CPI, SP, JD-U, Trinamool Congress, AGP and AIADMK said the measure should be withdrawn as "corruption" has come to fore now because lobbying is illegal in India.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Ravishankar Prasad (BJP) said apprehensions were raised earlier also about Wal-Mart spending huge money to lobby for entering the Indian market, which has now been proved true.
"Wal-Mart has in its lobbying disclosure report to the US Senate said it has spent Rs 125 crore on lobbying and USD three million have been spent in 2012 itself for entering the Indian market.
"Lobbying is illegal in India. Lobbying is a kind of bribe. If Wal-Mart has said that hundreds of crores of rupees were spent in India, then it is a kind of bribe. Government should tell who was given this bribe. This raises a question mark on the implementation of FDI in retail," Prasad said.
He was supported by members from other opposition parties with TMC leader D Bandopadhyay waving a newspaper report and CPI-M member P Rajeeve asking for an "independent inquiry" into the whole episode alleging that there are some reports saying Wal-Mart invested money even before FEMA was amended.
"This is bribery," he said as the Opposition members shouted slogans in favour of withdrawing FDI.
Amid din, SP members trooped into the Well shouting slogans against the government's move to bring reservation in promotion for SCs/STs. Government has listed the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012 for this purpose in the House on Monday.
Walmart Inc - the global retail giant 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 market .
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.
According to the reports filed by Walmart with the US Senate, the company has spent close to $25 million (about Rs 125 crore) since 2008 on its various lobbying activities, including on issues related to enhanced market access for investment in India.
The US-based supermarket chain operator Walmart Stores, which has an annual turnover of $444 billion and a worldwide headcount of 2.2 million, has been eyeing for a long time to enter India.
The Indian government recently opened up its multi-brand retail sector to foreign companies after years of political opposition and a Parliament motion against this decision was defeated last week in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
In the last quarter ended September 30 itself, the company spent $1.65 million (about Rs 10 crore) on various lobbying issues, which included discussions related to FDI in India.
During the quarter, Walmart lobbied for its case with the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the US Trade Representative (USTR) and the US Department of State, according to its latest quarterly disclosure report.
So far in 2012, Walmart has spent more than $3 million, or about Rs 18 crore, on its various lobbying activities, including those related to India.
Source:PTI, Other Agencies, Staff Reporters
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