New Delhi: Indian companies are not required to make any disclosures regarding their lobbying activities and the country's regulations have no provision as yet in this regard, the government said on Monday.
A panel, appointed by the government, is already looking into Wal-Mart's lobbying activities in the US to check whether there have been any irregularities related to the retailer's entry into India.
"Lobbying in foreign countries is regulated by the laws of the country concerned.
"In the Companies Act, 1956, there is no provision relating to lobbying and Indian companies are not required under the Companies Act to make disclosures concerning this subject," Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
He was responding to queries on whether Indian companies are allowed to pay in foreign exchange for lobbying overseas and whether there is any limit on such payments.
Besides, there were queries on total amount of foreign exchange used by Indian companies for lobbying and the names of firms that have used foreign exchange for lobbying overseas.
In December, Pilot had said that he favoured disclosures by companies and industry bodies about their representations to the government on specific policy issues.
"I think that time has come to define what is acceptable and what is not. What is legal and what is not legal. I think, in most countries we have that definition, but in India, it is pretty vague. It is wrong to assume that lobbying means bribery, but some people allege that it is bribery," Pilot had told PTI in an interview.
Meanwhile, the one-member inquiry panel looking into Wal-Mart's lobbying activities in the US is expected to submit its report to the government next month. The committee is headed by former Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court Justice Mukul Mudgal.
Following reports about Wal-Mart's lobbying activities among the US lawmakers since 2008 for facilitating its entry into the Indian market, the government had set up the panel.
The terms of reference of the committee include inquiring into "media reports on disclosures of Wal-Mart before the US Senate regarding their lobbying activities and details thereof."