The Indian government has slashed its expenses towards lobbying in the US with a total payment of USD 120,000 to its registered lobbyist firm in the second quarter of 2017 — the first cut in nearly seven years. The disclosure has been made by BGR Government Affairs, which lobbied on behalf of Republic of India on issues relating to “bilateral US-India relations”. According to the latest quarterly disclosure report filed with the US Senate, BGR has disclosed total income of USD 120,000 from Republic of India towards “all lobbying related income from the client (including all payments to the registrant by any other entity for lobbying activities on behalf of the client).” All lobbyist firms need to get registered in the US for undertaking any lobbying activities and file quarterly disclosures including about the payments received, specific issues for lobbying and the agencies approached by it.
During the second quarter of 2017 ended June 30, BGR lobbied on behalf of the Indian government at the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the Department Commerce, the Department of State and the US Trade Representative. Prior to the latest quarter, BGR’s quarterly lobbying income from the Indian government stood unchanged at USD 180,000 since the fourth quarter of 2010. Before that, the Indian government had paid BGR USD 60,000 in the third quarter of 2010 and less than USD 5,000 in the second quarter of that year, according to the disclosure reports filed over the years. The latest disclosure report did not cite any reason for the decline in the quarterly payment to USD 120,000.
The highest quarterly amount so far has been recorded in fourth quarter of 2009 when BGR was paid USD 200,000, as per an analysis of all disclosure reports filed by it. While the “specific lobbying issue” disclosed by BGR for Indian government has been “bilateral US-India relations” for many quarters now, the lobby firm also used to lobby “issues related to the civil nuclear agreement” between the US and India till 2009. BGR began lobbying in the US on behalf of the Indian government in late 2005. In its registration disclosure filed in October 2005, BGR had said it has been mandated to “provide guidance and counsel with regard to issues impacting bilateral relations between the United States and the Republic of India”. Subsequently, in its year-end disclosure report for 2005, when BGR was paid a total amount of USD 240,000, the lobbyist disclosed that it “provided guidance and counsel with regard to issues impacting bilateral relations between the US and the Republic of India, including a potential civil nuclear agreement”.
Issues relating to bilateral relationship and civil nuclear agreement continued to be listed as “specific lobbying issues” in the disclosure reports for the years 2006-2009, after which the disclosed lobbying area has been limited to ‘bilateral US-India relationship’. Since 2005-end when BGR began lobbying in the US on behalf of the Indian government, it has been paid a total amount of about USD 8 million (approximately Rs 50 crore at the current exchange rate). As per its website, BGR Group offers “an integrated suite of bipartisan lobbying, strategic communications and business solutions that help meet your challenges in a risky, ever- shifting and interconnected world.”
It further says that “BGR’s professionals can help you meet your lobbying, public relations and business goals in Washington, in state capitals and around the world”. Founded in 1991, the group further claims that “no firm better understands the architecture of Washington than BGR” and it can give its clients “the hard data, insight and connections you need to meet your goals”.