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Vodafone May Drop Arbitration In Tax Row

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/ Times of India

Is Vodafone looking to drop the idea of filing for arbitration against the Indian government as it reopens conciliation talks with the new dispensation to sort its vexed tax disputes? The British telecom giant had served an arbitration notice on the government in April over the much-disputed Rs 20,000-crore tax demand raised on its 2007 buyout of Hutchison Whampoa’s stake in Hutchison Essar. It hopes that that the “positive signs” shown by the new NDA government opens a scope to restart talks.

The company feels that a new regime at the Centre, led by the BJP, will be mindful of its “concerns” as the tax demand, which includes penalty, was raised through a retrospective legislation even though the Supreme Court had ruled in its favour.

Vodafone Group external affairs director and former British Diplomatic Service officer Matthew Kirk had a meeting with finance secretary Arvind Mayaram and revenue secretary Rajiv Takru on Friday. He is understood to have broached the idea for fresh talks, the proposal coming days after new telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that retrospective legislations should generally be avoided and imposed in very rare cases.

Vodafone — which is yet to file for arbitration — now appears to be open to the idea of reviving talks and this in effect will mean that its proposed arbitration proceedings are delayed and even dropped altogether, sources said. Friday’s meeting was a first step in this direction.

When contacted, Ben Padovan, group head of media (external affairs) at Vodafone Group Services, said from London, “We are not commenting on the meetings.”

Sources also said that the company wants that its various tax disputes, including the transfer pricing case, be clubbed together when it initiates conciliatory talks with the government.

The company feels that a change of guard at the Centre will help push its case more effectively as the BJP has been critical of retrospective amendments to the tax laws and had dubbed it “tax terrorism”. Original post at The Times of India

Wahengbam Rorrkychand

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Website: http://www.blog.tonsetelecom.com

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