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.
Yesterday, the Parisian fashion house @azzaro_official cut the ribbon on a temeporary retrospective at the wing of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The exhibition, which shows the lasting influence of the brand’s founder Loris Azzaro, is titled “Azzaro, Fifty Sparkling Years” and presents 50 looks. In it’s ’70s heyday, fans of the brand included Jane Birkin, pictured here, Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot and more. See more photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@trinaturk and @macys Inc International Concepts line are linking up on a collection for summer — filled with accessories, swimwear and shoes. The collection will also include a Mr Turk men’s line, both of which are the designer’s first entry into a more accessibly priced area. “It’s very world-traveler, gypset-inspired,” said Turk. The Trina Turk x INC line will launch on May 15th. #wwdfashion
Assouline is paying homage to the late Azzedine Alaïa with a reprint of "Alaïa Livre de Collection.” The book is comprised of photographs of the designer's summer 1992 runway show with models Christy Turlington Burns, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, pictured here at right. #wwdfashion #alaia #tyrabanks
Fall 2018 accessories take on a painterly hue, with Nebulas Blue among Pantone’s top 10 colors of the season. (📸: @jonghyupstudio ; editor: @twallz21 ; stylist and set designer: @haideefindlaylevin ) #wwdaccessories
@americanapparelusa is relaunching the brand outside of the U.S. today, opening its online store to more than 200 countries. The company is also contemplating a return to brick-and-mortar, though details have not been confirmed. In tandem with the expanded distribution is a recasting of a social media ad campagn, called “Back to Basics,” pictured here, with a focus on diversity and a cast of models above the age of 21. Read more on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Exclusive: @britneyspears is continuing to expand her brand. The pop icon, who appears in @kenzo ’s latest campaign, is partnering with Epic Rights to launch a line of branded merchandise. Read @hernameislex ‘s story, link in bio. #wwdnews #britneyspears
The Duchess of Cambridge channeled Princess Diana’s look upon giving birth to Prince Harry, when she and the Duke of Cambridge departed the hospital with the new baby Prince this afternoon in London. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
The new Prince of Cambridge has arrived! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed with the 8-pound newborn. She wore a look from one of her go-to designers, @jennypackham. Tap link in bio for more. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge