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Corporate Mar 21, 2012

Amending laws not investor-friendly but won’t quit India: Vodafone

New Delhi: Telecom major Vodafone today said the government's move to retrospectively amend income tax laws does not augur well for investors but asserted that it has no plan to exit India.

"As a practising businessman in India, this will not augur well for foreign direct investment and the country at large," Vodafone India's non-executive Chairman Analjit Singh said in response to a query on the proposal to amend tax laws.

Reuters

Earlier in the day, a Finance Ministry official told PTI: "They (Vodafone) will have to automatically pay the tax after approval of the amendments to the Finance Bill by Parliament.

We don't need to send fresh tax demand notice to them."

In Budget 2012-13, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has proposed amending the Income Tax Act retrospectively from 1962 to bring under net overseas deals involving domestic assets.

This would have a bearing on Vodafone which won the legal dispute in Supreme Court over Rs 11,000-crore tax claim raised on its $11-billion deal with Hutchison Essar in 2007.

"The question is not changing the rules of the game so substantially, particularly (since) Vodafone is one of the largest foreign direct investors in India where FDI is about $15-16 billion," Singh told a private news channel.

His comments a day after the government refunded Rs 2,500 crore along with interest to Vodafone following dismissal of its review petition by the Supreme Court.

On whether Vodafone would look at pulling out of India, he said the question is not even on the table. "Vodafone is an institution, Vodafone is there for opportunity. No... nobody from Vodafone has ever directly or indirectly conveyed anything like that, the question here is fairplay," he said.

The government's proposed amendment has invited wrath of many a corporate honcho. Incidentally, US-India Business Council President Ron Somers today said: "Vodafone kind of cases sent a wrong signal to investors. It is a little regressive in nature. However, we believe this is one-off case and overall business environment will remain investor-friendly."

PTI


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