Retired judge to probe Wal-Mart lobbying issue: Govt

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 09:11 hrs

A retired judge would hold the inquiry into reports on lobbying by international supermarket chain Wal-Mart to open the way for foreign equity in retail trade in India, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath announced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Making the announcement soon after the House met for the day, Kamal Nath said it would be a time-bound inquiry.

The opposition has been demanding a transparent inquiry on reports that Wal-Mart had spent Rs 125 crore on lobbying activities in the US, including on issues related to enhanced market access for investment in India.

The government had on Tuesday agreed to an inquiry.

Confident things will work out in India: Wal-Mart CEO
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart chief executive officer Mike Duke has said he will be "patient" and is confident that things will get worked out in India for the company, amid the political uproar in India over opening of the multi-brand retail sector as well as lobbying efforts by the retail giant.

"I still believe that in India things will get worked out. I am confident that (India) is a country that has such an opportunity to help both the farmers, those that are producing products for consumers all the way through the supply chain to the consumer," Duke said at a council on foreign relations event organised here on Tuesday on 'The Responsibility to Lead'.

He was responding to a question on how India fits into the international priority markets for Wal-Mart given the country's mixed response to opening of its retail sector.

The Wal-Mart president said having travelled to India a number of times, he "really feels for the people of India because the people of India are missing on the opportunity right now because of the inefficiencies of the supply chain and so many of the challenges.

"But I am patient and I believe that overtime the process will get worked out in India. That we can help people live a better life in India also," he added.

Duke said in the next 10-50 years, the emerging middle class in countries like India, China and Latin America will be the "real opportunity for Wal-Mart from a business standpoint".

"These big emerging markets where there are a lot of people, where there will be an emerging consumer over the next decade will be our greatest priority," he said.

The Indian government had on Tuesday offered to hold an inquiry into allegations of payment made by US retail giant Wal-Mart in India but it did not cut much ice with the Opposition which demanded a time-bound probe by either a Joint Parliamentary Committee or judiciary.

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