Inquiry panel likely to meet senior Walmart executives this week
Faced with political heat, the government announced a probe in December into the lobbying activities by Walmart in the US for gaining access to Indian market.
New Delhi: The government-appointed panel, looking into possible irregularities in Walmart's US lobbying activities for entering the Indian market, is expected to meet senior executives of the retail giant this week to gather more information.
Faced with political heat, the government announced a probe in December into the lobbying activities by Walmart in the US for gaining access to Indian market. The one-man Inquiry Committee, headed by former Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court Justice Mukul Mudgal, would submit the investigation report to the government in April.
Senior executives of Walmart are expected to provide information to the panel during its meeting scheduled for March 22. The committee is looking into media reports of lobbying activities by Walmart in India.
On March 7, the panel met with senior officials of the Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs.
The deliberations revolved around the responses received in response to a notice of February 12, 2013, put out by the panel, soliciting information from the general public on the terms of reference of the committee.
In the wake of reports about Walmart 's lobbying activities among the US lawmakers since 2008 for facilitating its entry into Indian market, the government late last year assured in Parliament to get the matter probed by a retired judge.
Subsequently, the government set up the committee, whose terms of reference include inquiring into "media reports on disclosures of Walmart before the US Senate regarding their lobbying activities and details thereof".
The committee is also looking into "whether Walmart undertook any activities in India in contravention of any Indian law", and any other matter relevant to this issue.
In the meantime, Walmart has continued to lobby with the American lawmakers on issues related to foreign investment norms in India, as also others, and spent a total amount of $ 6.13 million on the same during entire 2012.
As per the latest Congressional records of lobbying disclosure reports, the US-based Walmart Stores spent a total amount of $ 1.48 million (about Rs 8 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 Walmart for entire 2012 to $ 6.13 million (about Rs 33 crore).