NEW DELHI — Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s lobbying spending in the U.S. has stirred controversy in the Indian Parliament.
Following a disclosure to the U.S. Senate by Wal-Mart that the company spent $25 million in lobbying since 2008, the Indian opposition parties that have been fighting the idea of global retailers entering the market — with Wal-Mart epitomizing that — have put the world’s largest retailer under the spotlight.
The report is said to have mentioned that some $3 million was spent on “enhanced market access for investment in India.”
Also causing concern and argument in Parliament were the results of the last quarter, which ended Sept. 30, that showed Wal-Mart had spent $1.65 million on various lobbying issues, including “discussions related to foreign direct investment in India.” RELATED STORY: India FDI Clears Final Hurdle >>
“This raises a question mark on the implementation of FDI in retail,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, Bharatiya Janata Party leader in Parliament, referring to Wal-Mart’s alleged lobbying in India.
With the political parties just having concluded a raucous and difficult week, ending Dec. 7 when the matter of FDI in multibrand retail was put to the test with a debate and a vote in both houses of Parliament, opposition parties countered the winning vote in favor of FDI in multibrand retail by alleging that the ruling United Progressive Alliance had “sold out to foreign interests.”
On Monday and Tuesday, Parliament focused on Wal-Mart, which has been eager to enter the Indian market on its own. The opposing BJP called for a judicial probe into the retailer’s lobbying spending.
“The government views this with as much concern as all sections of the house and has no hesitation in having an inquiry to get to the facts of the matter,” Kamal Nath, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, said Tuesday.
It is expected that consultations between key ruling party members on Wednesday will lead to a clearer positioning on the issue.
Wal-Mart said, “These allegations are entirely false. In accordance with U.S. law, U.S. companies are required to disclose the issues and expenditures associated with lobbying on a quarterly basis. The expenditures are a compilation of expenses associated with U.S. federal lobbying contacts and include staffing cost, association dues, and payments made to consultants, all in the United States. Our Washington office naturally had discussions with U.S. government officials about a range of trade and investment issues that impact our businesses in the U.S. and worldwide, and disclosed this in accordance with the law.”
Rajesh Joshi, a corporate lawyer, said that the real issue was that although “lobbying” is legal in the U.S., it is illegal in India and often is not easily distinguished from corruption. “Many Indians view it as greasing the pockets of a person who makes decisions,” he said.
Wal-Mart already has a 50-50 joint venture with Bharti Enterprises, which started in 2008, for a cash-and-carry format that has 18 stores. Many of these are in smaller cities such as Vijayawada and Guntur. The joint venture already is under scrutiny, with its chief financial officer Pankaj Madan and four other officials being investigated over charges of corruption.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews