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Cabinet nod to one-man inquiry panel into Wal-Mart issue

Will probe whether Wal-Mart had indulged in lobbying to gain entry into the market

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A one-man committee, comprising a retired judge, will probe into charges of by US-based chain Stores in India. The decision was taken at a meeting today.

The committee will investigate whether Wal-Mart has indulged in any lobbying activities in India to gain entry into the market, violating any Indian law, an official statement said.

The committee was asked to submit its report within three months, according to the statement.
Last month, the Government had decided to probe into the matter following media reports on disclosures of Wal-Mart before the Senate regarding its lobbying activities.

In November, Wal-Mart had disclosed that it spent $25 million on lobbying in the US over the past four years, including on issues related to “enhanced market access for investment in India.”

However, the US retailer has repeatedly denied any as lobbying is legal in the US.

In September last year, the Indian Government had allowed 51% foreign holding in multi-brand retail companies in India.

The Parliament proceedings during the Winter Session were paralysed over the allegations that Wal-Mart had indulged in lobbying in India to gain entry into the Indian market.

Under the Commission of Inquiry Act, the Government will have to table the probe report as well as the action report before Parliament.

Wal-Mart entered Indian market in 2007 and operates 50:50 joint venture with Bharti Enterprises for whole selling business.

The Bharti Wal-Mart joint venture operates 17 Best Price Modern Wholesale stores, and provides back-end logistical support for the Easyday stores owned by Bharti Retail.

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