10 Developments

Govt says it's open to inquiry on Wal-Mart lobbying, Opposition demands probe by parliamentary panel: 10 developments

New Delhi The government said today that it is willing to order an inquiry to determine if Wal-Mart lobbied in India for access to the country's vast retail sector. There were multiple disruptions in the Lok Sabha today before the house discussed the issue at 2 pm this afternoon.
Here are the top 10 developments:
  1. The BJP and Left parties have demanded that a joint parliamentary committee or JPC be formed  to investigate the Wal-Mart controversy. The Opposition points out that lobbying is illegal in India. 
  2. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government is amenable to an investigation. "The issue of Wal-Mart lobbying is not a concern only for opposition but also for the Government of India," he said in Parliament. 
  3. The new controversy is fomented by a disclosure in the US that Wal-Mart spent 125 crores in the last four years on lobbying for different agendas including its goal to set up supermarkets in India.
  4. The US said today that Wal-Mart has not violated any law. The US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, "On the US side, I don't have any reason to believe that we have a violation of US law here. With regard to the Indian side, I'll refer you to them." She also said, "The report which some of these allegations have cited is a regularly required report for the US government as part of our open government transparency in governance requirements."
  5. Wal-Mart said yesterday that allegations of any illegalities in India are baseless.
  6. But the BJP says that a detailed inquiry must be conducted to determine if government officials were bribed to help introduce or clear a new law that allows foreign super-chains to sell directly to the Indian customer. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said yesterday, "It appears as if a bribe was given...who was bribed? The government must explain."
  7. Last week, the government won a vote in Parliament on its decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment or FDI in retail. The vote was non-binding but tested the ability of the minority government to help push important legislation and reforms.
  8. The government was reduced to a minority in September when the PM decided to introduce new economic reforms led by FDI in retail. Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress exited the coalition in protest.
  9. The reforms, economic experts and investors believe, will shore up a slowing economy and bring in a fresh infusion of investment, which could also help farmers and small businesses.
  10. However, Opposition parties said the new policy will crush small retailers not able to withstand the competition from the global giants.
Story First Published: December 11, 2012 10:16 IST

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