A government-appointed committee,looking into the lobbying activities of Walmart to enter India,is meeting on April 9 to deliberate on the response received from the public and the company,an official source told The Indian Express.
The official said that the meeting will deliberate on the response of Walmart Asia and Bharti Walmart to the queries posed by the committee in its earlier meeting. Senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs,Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Corporate Affairs Ministry would be attending the meeting.
The committee will be meeting for the third time since Justice Mukul Mudgal,retired chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court,was appointed as the chairperson of the panel on February 7. While inviting comments from the public on the charges against the company,the committee also met senior executives from the two companies last week. Scott Price,president and CEO of Walmart Asia,and Raj Jain,president,Walmart India,met the committee last week on March 22 wherein their response was sought to a questionnaire given by the committee.
They are supposed to give their response in 8-9 days and after that the committee will meet to assess their response. The panel has asked them about their lobbying agents in India along with the activities on which the lobbying money was spent in the country. The panel has also asked them the amount spent on lobbying activities in the Indian market, the official said.
Following reports on Walmarts disclosure filed in the US Senate revealing an expenditure of $25 million since 2008 on lobbying with American lawmakers to gain access in overseas activities,including India,the government had set up the inquiry committee to verify the facts.
The committee is expected to submit its report within three months with the corporate affairs ministry providing it the administrative and functional support.
In the meeting,senior executives of the two company were not very open. So,the panel has asked them to give their reply to the questionnaire, the official said adding that the committee is likely to ask for an extension. The response sought from public has not been very encouraging with the committee hardly getting any representation barring a few letters from individuals.
Pending the inquiry and lack of clarity in foreign direct investment norms in multi-brand retail,Walmart has put its expansion plan in India on hold though at the world economic forum in Davos early this year,Doug McMillon,CEO,Walmart had met commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and conveyed that the company remains excited about India.