Wal-Mart continues lobbying in US for India entry
Washington/New Delhi: Amid a probe being initiated into Wal-Mart's US lobbying with regard to its India entry, the global retail giant has continued to lobby with the American lawmakers on this issue, as also others, and spent a total amount of USD 6.13 million on the same during 2012.
As per the latest Congressional records of lobbying disclosure reports, the US-based Wal-Mart Stores spent a total amount of USD 1.48 million (about Rs eight crore) on lobbying for various issues, including on "discussions related to FDI in India", during the last quarter ended December 31, 2012.
This has taken the total lobbying bill of the company for entire 2012 to USD 6.13 million (about Rs 33 crore), the lobbying disclosure records available with the US Senate show.
Wal-Mart has been lobbying with the US lawmakers on dozens of issues every quarter, whose disclosures it is mandatorily required to make under the American regulations.
Recently, the Indian government initiated a probe into the lobbying activities by Wal-Mart in the US for gaining access to Indian market, after disclosures about these activities caused a furore and a political debate in India.
The company has, however, maintained that these disclosures have nothing to do with political or governmental contacts with India government officials and they only show that Wal-Mart's business interest in India was discussed with the US government officials along with many more other topics.
Wal-Mart has been waiting for years to open its supermarkets in India and it has been lobbying with the US lawmakers since at least 2008 to facilitate its entry into the highly lucrative Indian market.
Its total bill on these activities has now crossed USD 34 million (about Rs 180 crore) since 2008, which has been incurred on account of lobbying for more than 50 issues every quarter, including the issues related to "enhanced market access for investment in India".
However, the amount spent by Wal-Mart in last quarter was lower than USD 1.65 million incurred in the previous three- month period ended September 30, 2012, when also one of its lobbying issues was "discussions related to FDI in India".
Its annual lobbying bill also fell to USD 6.13 million in 2012, from USD 7.84 million in 2011. Prior to that, it had spent USD 6.16 million in 2010, USD 7.39 million in 2009 and USD 6.59 million in 2008.
Wal-Mart has lobbied for its various business interests with the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the US Trade Representative (USTR) and the US Department of State, among other organisations and departments.
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.
As per Wal-Mart's lobbying disclosure reports, the company has continuously lobbied for its India entry since 2008, except for a few quarters in 2009.
Indian government recently opened up its multi-brand retail sector for 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.
The US-based supermarket chain operator Wal-Mart Stores, which has an annual turnover of USD 444 billion and a world- wide headcount of 2.2 million, has been waiting for a long time to enter India.
The Indian retail market is estimated to be worth about USD 500 billion currently and is pegged to cross USD one trillion mark by 2020, given the rising personal income and growing consumer spending trends.
India is one of the most favourable destinations for international retailers and an accelerated retail growth of 15-20 percent is expected over the next five years.