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Industry for legalising lobbying after ministry document leak

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New Delhi, Feb 22:

In the wake of this week’s sensational arrests by Delhi Police in connection with alleged corporate espionage, the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India Sunday reiterated their earlier demand for legalising lobbying to improve transparency in government-industry dealings.

Pic Courtesy: www.thehansindia.com
Pic Courtesy: www.thehansindia.com

“Each Indian and multinational company should have a right to engage in lobbying groups to advance their line of arguments and convince the decision-making authorities that they have merit. Lobbying should no more be considered as a dirty word,” Assocham secretary-general D.S. Rawat said in a statement here.

Assocham said the only way to get rid of “corporate espionage” in the corridors of state machinery is introducing complete transparency and demolishing the four walls of secrecy around the process of “decision-making”.

“In any case, why should the government decision-making concerning policies which have a bearing on the corporates be shrouded in secrecy,” Rawat asked.

The chamber had demanded the same less than a year ago.

“Like in the US, we should make lobbying legal with all the rules of transparency in place. In a competitive market, business players with conflicting interests are bound to fight for policy space,” Assocham had said.

”As long as advocacy arguments for or against a premise are being advanced in a fair and transparent manner and no ulterior motives are attached. It is high time, lobbying is not taken as a bad word and professional lobbying firms are allowed,” he added.

The government had, in December 2012, ordered an investigation into lobbying activities by US-based Walmart to enter the Indian retail market.

The sensational petroleum ministry documents leakage case assumed wider dimensions Friday with the arrest of a former journalist and an energy consultant and revelations in the police FIR that the papers stolen included inputs for the forthcoming union budget and a letter relating to the PMO.

The stolen documents also related to the power and coal ministries, police said. IANS