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Jan 15, 2013, 10.43 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Vodafone-Govt truce talks: Meeting 1 ends inconclusive

Vodafone and Government of India have initiated talks to bury the hatchet over the billion dollar tax dispute relating to the British firm's acquisition of Indian assets of Hutchison Whampoa. Both sides are keen on a settlement of the tax dispute.

Vodafone and Government of India have initiated talks to bury the hatchet over the billion dollar tax dispute relating to the British firm's acquisition of Indian assets of Hutchison Whampoa. Both sides are keen on a settlement of the tax dispute.

Vodafone India's MD and CEO Martin Pieters and non-executive chairman Analjit Singh held discussions with Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose and other officials, sources said.  

Vodafone is facing a tax liability in connection with the acquisition of Indian business of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa for USD 11.2 billion through a deal which was executed in Cayman Islands in 2007.

The meeting follows a reminder notice by the Revenue Department to Vodafone earlier this month.

The British telecom firm had replied to the notice saying it believed that no tax was liable for the 2007 deal. To this, the Revenue department suggested that both sides should negotiate and find solution to the matter.

CNBC-TV18’s Aakansha Sethi reports quoting sources that today’s meeting ended inconclusive.

Earlier in the day, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal assured Vodafone that the government was ready to "collaborate" and look at its concerns.

Responding to the assurance given by the Telecom Minister, Pieters said, "I am glad that he gave us some hope. Now that hope needs to translate into action." Although the Vodafone had won the tax case in the Supreme Court, the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee amended the tax laws with retrospective effect to bring such deals in the tax net.

Concerned over the global outcry over retrospective amendment, the government had asked tax expert Parthasarthi Shome to look into the concerns and suggest corrective measures.

The Shome Committee in its draft report had suggested that the government should refrain from changing tax laws with retrospective effect. If it was not possible to do so, it said, the government might recover tax dues from Vodafone but waive interest and penalty.

The government is likely to announce some steps to deal with the issue in the Budget for 2013-14 which will be unveiled in the Lok Sabha on February 28.

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