Vodafone to infuse Rs.6,000 crore in Maharashtra, affirms commitment to India

New Delhi/Mumbai, Feb 18 (IANS) Within days of strongly reacting to the Indian tax department’s notice of over a Rs.14,000-crore demand, global telecom major Vodafone on Thursday said it is committed to long-term investment in India and further pledged to infuse Rs.6,000 crore in Maharashtra.

The company on Tuesday took exception to the Indian tax department’s threat to seize its assets if it failed to pay a disputed demand of over Rs.14,000 crore, which is still under international arbitration.

“Vodafone’s statement on Tuesday was made in response to questions from Indian and global media,” the company said on Thursday, adding that it was surprised “the Indian Tax Department appeared to be threatening asset seizures in cases subject to international arbitration, and that this has been made public.”

“Vodafone is a committed long-term investor in India, and in that regard enjoys a positive and constructive relationship with the Indian government,” it added.

The dispute in this case relates to Vodafone’s $11 billion acquisition of a 67 percent share in the mobile phone business of Hutchison Whampoa. Vodafone maintains it is not liable to pay to India’s tax department since the transaction was conducted offshore, while authorities here have said the deal involved a company’s assets in this country.

On Thursday, Vodafone India said it has committed to invest Rs.6,000 crore for capacity augmentation and new business initiatives in Maharashtra.

“At Vodafone, we are enthused with the government’s vision of Digital India and Make in India and are keen to be a partner in its delivery. Vodafone India serves over 194 million citizens, of which almost 100 million are from rural areas,” Sunil Sood, managing director & CEO, Vodafone India, said at the ‘Make in India’ summit.

“We remain deeply invested in and committed to Maharashtra and are pleased to announce our enhanced investments in the state,” Sood added.

Vodafone will increase its staffing levels to around 15,000 employees over the next few years, the company said.

“This new commitment is an endorsement of Maharashtra’s stature and potential to fulfil the Make in India and Digital India vision. My government will extend all possible cooperation to Vodafone to ensure that the planned projects and initiatives are executed in time,” the Vodafone statement quoted Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as saying.

“Since starting operations in India in 2007, Vodafone has invested over Rs.113,000 crore in and over Rs.111,000 crore has been contributed to the exchequer and is today the largest FDI investor in the country,” the company added.

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