As per the lobbying disclosure reports filed by the Wal-Mart company with the US Senate, it has spent an amount of over $11 million (more than Rs 52 crore) on issues related to India, as also other matters, in over two years now. In 2010 itself, the company spent $1.37 million (over Rs six crore) on lobbying in the first quarter.
It has disclosed “discussion related to India FDI (Foreign Direct Investment)” as one of the issues in its lobbying with the US lawmakers in the first two quarters of 2011, during which it spent nearly USD 4 million on various lobbying activities.
Organiser, the mouth-piece of the RSS, which is behind the BJP’s opposition to the FDI, has highlighted the disclosures. In a quick follow-up, senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar has sought a probe into the issue.
“Under the US laws, the companies are allowed lobbying but have to make disclose it officially. Since it has been made official that company has spent Rs 50 crore for lobbying, the government should order a probe as to how and where the company spent the money,” Kumar said.
A RajyaSabha member, Kumar heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce.
Kumar said Wal-Mart’s annual retail business turnover is to the tune Rs 14 lakh crore, which is much higher than India’s annual budget of Rs 11 lakh crore. Walmart and other foreign retail giants aim to get a share in India’s economic growth.
The Rajya Sabha MP said that the issues on which these companies are lobbying with the US government range from facilitating the market access to easing of foreign investment rules in India to help further expansion of their businesses here, the lobbying disclosure reports filed by them with the US Senate state.
“ It is due to result of such lobbying that efforts are being made to open the retail market to the FDI - a move strongly opposed by the parliamentary standing committee. The committee had raised several queries and asked for more details. Discussions have not been completed. Yet the government chose to go ahead with the move. This is a breach of privilege of the standing committee,” he said.
Kumar also said, “This is a conspiracy to capture the Indian market. Earlier, pharmaceutical multinationals had bought eight Indian companies, including Ranbaxy and Dabur, at four-five times their value and made them give an undertaking that they will not enter this market in future. By next year 200 medicines will lose their patents and foreign companies will take over the business to sell medicines at higher rates.”
Gopal Agarwal, convenor of BJP’s economy cell, said the disclosures on money spent by US companies on lobbying exposes the fair and unfair means employed by the MNC to expand its business.