Friday, March 01, 2013

Vodafone CEO describes Indian bureaucracy “complicated and stratified”

VODAFONE Group CEO Vittorio Colao has called Indian bureaucracy “very complicated and stratified” adding that there are “just too many layers and too many people who can interpret things the wrong way.” The CEO of the British telecom giant made this remark while speaking to The Wall Street Journal, the largest circulated financial daily in the world, just a few days before India’s finance minister P Chidambaram presented his Union budget. And the context in which Colao referred to Indian bureaucracy was...
the continuing dispute over whether Vodafone owes Indian government a $2 billion tax bill or not. Indian tax authorities claimed that Vodafone must pay that amount for its 2007 transaction of buying a majority stake in Hutchison-Essar, something challenged in Indian courts. Indian apex court finally gave its verdict in favour Vodafone, but the government changed its law retrospectively to force the company to pay. Now, both the government and the telecom company are negotiating for a middle path to resolve the crisis.
WSJ correspondents asked Colao a straight question. “How does the bureaucracy in India differ from that in Europe?”. This is what Vodafone CEO replied: “The amount of interpretations, I would say odd interpretations, that you can get out of India is a multiple of what you get everywhere else.” He then went on to say that it’s not a political design, but is the result of a "very complicated and stratified bureaucracy". He said in India, there are too many layers and too many people who can interpret things the “wrong way”. (WSJ article here)
Recently, other multinationals such as Shell and Nokia were also engulfed in tax disputes. And their top honchos have criticized Indian tax bureaucracy openly.

Action and Appointments
a) The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the proposal to appoint Dr Ravi Kota, a 1993 batch Assam cadre IAS, presently working as joint secretary in the department of personnel and training (DoPT) as joint secretary (Operations) NATGRID in the ministry of home affairs, on lateral transfer basis, for a period up to September 30, 2014 or until further orders. Kota will replace Dr GSG Ayyangar, a 1987 batch Manipur-Tripura cadre IAS on his appointment as joint secretary in the department of sports.

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