NASSCOM, the Indian IT industry body, which has been reassuring that things are well in the $ 155 billion industry even as the number of Indian IT employees that may reportedly lose their jobs keeps growing by the day, has stepped up its lobbying with the American lawmakers significantly with an over one-third increase in money spent on such activities.
According to the latest lobbying disclosure reports filed with the US Senate, NASSCOM paid a total amount of $1,50,000 (nearly Rs 1 crore) to its two registered lobbyists, The Lande Group and Wexler & Walker, in the first quarter of 2017. This marks a significant rise from $1,10,000 paid to the two lobbyists in the previous quarter ended December 2016.
The Lande Group was paid $50,000 in January-March quarter of 2017 — the same as the money paid in each of the four quarters of 2016, but Wexler & Walker, a unit of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, LLC, was paid $100,000 in the first quarter of 2017, as against $60,000 it was paid in many of the previous quarters.
As per the lobbying disclosure report, the “specific lobbying issues” undertaken by Wexler & Walker included those related to immigration. The “general issues” included tax and trade matters. The houses of Congress and federal agencies with whom it lobbied on behalf of NASSCOM, which itself acts as a lobby group for the $155 billion Indian IT industry, included the US Senate and the US House of Representatives.
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On the other hand, Lande Group covered a larger number of “specific lobbying issues”, including with several federal agencies, as per its first-quarter disclosure report. These included “high skill immigration, green cards, visa processing, US-India relations, US-India matters, tax reform, (and) border adjustment tax”.
In addition to the Senate and the House of Representatives, The Lande Group also did lobbying with the White House Office, the US Trade Representative, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the departments of state, commerce and homeland security.
The Lande Group has been lobbying on behalf of NASSCOM since the third quarter of 2010, while Wexler & Walker registered itself as a lobbyist for the industry body in October 2015.
Earlier, however, NASSCOM had assured that things are well in the $ 155 billion industry by saying that IT sector will hire about 1.5 lakh people this year on a “net” basis although techies will have to re-skill themselves to stay relevant.
“We categorically reject the reports of mass layoffs in the sector. FY2017 saw 1.7 lakh people being added, while in Q4 alone, the gross hiring was of over 50,000 by top five companies,” Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar said.
Last month, Chandrashekhar had said that India’s information technology industry has sound fundamental drivers, despite some headwinds from adverse currency movements and geopolitical concerns.
“I think the fundamentals are entirely sound in terms of the demand across the globe, in terms of the relative shortage of skills in other countries, which has been a significant driver for the industry in India, all of these remain intact,” Chandrasekhar had said in a television interview.
He had pointed out towards the Gartner report released at the end of March 2017. The report had projected a growth of 4.6%-4.7% in IT services over the next two years and at 12.8% over the next five years.
“By any standards, that’s a very healthy growth rate and if that is not healthy then I don’t know what is, in today’s circumstances”, Chandrasekhar had said.
He had also spoken about Perspective-2025, a report by NASSCOM and McKinsey, which forecasts Indian IT services industry to grow at a CAGR of around 11% and reach USD 220 billion by 2020 and USD 350 billion by 2025.
“So clearly we seem to be very much on track on that score”, Chandrasekhar had said.
Last month, after the White house had alleged that India’s leading IT companies such as TCS and Infosys unfairly garner a large share of H-1B visas by putting extra tickets in the lottery system and flooding the system with applicants, which increases their chances of success in the lottery draw, NASSCOM had refuted this charge stating that only six of the top 20 H-1B Recipients were Indian companies and that TCS and Infosys together had received only 7,504 approved H-1B Visas in FY15.