NEW DELHI: Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao today met finance minister Arun Jaitley and other government officials as the British telecom major looks for life beyond the tax disputes.
Colao, who had in September last year described working in India as full of complexities, was today all praise for Narendra Modi government’s initiatives like Digital India.
Prior to his over half-an-hour long meeting with Jaitley this evening, he had a one-on-one meeting with telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Colao’s visit comes close on the heels of reports that the government is mulling referring retrospective tax cases like the Rs 20,000-crore tax case against Vodafone to a judicial commission for an early decision.
Colao, who did not offer any comments after meeting Jaitley, had earlier in the day said he does not discuss his diary schedule with media.
While he did not offer any comments on his meeting with the Telecom Minister as well, Prasad had told reporters that he told the country’s second biggest mobile phone operator to address the issue of call drops.
The meetings come days after Vodafone won a major reprieve from the Bombay High Court which set aside an Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) ruling that the I-T Department had powers to raise tax demand on the company in a Rs 8,500- crore transfer pricing case.
The Union Government has an option to appeal against the judgement.
Vodafone’s main tax dispute relates to a Rs 20,000 crore tax and penalty raised on it for not withholding tax when it bought majority stake in Hutchison Essar. The matter is before an arbitration panel, to which both the government and the company have named their judges. The two judges are to name a neutral presiding arbitrator for the arbitration to begin.
The case relates to retrospective amendment to the I-T laws carried out by the UPA government in 2012 to upturn the Supreme Court verdict which had favoured Vodafone.
This case pertains to levy of capital gains tax on sale of India assets by Hong Kong-based Hutchison to Vodafone.
Vodafone had initiated arbitration proceedings against India. While both India and Vodafone had named their respective arbitrators, the two have not yet been able to agree on a third arbitrator to preside over the proceedings.