New Delhi: Notwithstanding its nearly Rs 12,000 crore tax dispute with the government, Vodafone plans to invest $ 3 billion in the next two years that will be deployed for network expansion in rural areas.
Vodafone global CEO Vittorio Colao, however, declined to go into the details of the "positive" meeting he had with Finance Minister P Chidambaram yesterday on the tax issue.
"I am grateful to the Finance Minister for giving me time to meet him. It is good to have a dialogue between an enterprise and the policy maker. It is positive," Colao said, but he parried a question whether Vodafone would be willing to pay up around Rs 11,200 crore income tax demand.
He said Vodafone was incredibly positive about India not only from the business point of view but otherwise too.
Colao said in the next two years Vodafone will invest $ 3 billion in India.
"Our organic or real investment into the country is a significant $ 3 billion in two years... is the right decision," he said making it clear that the tax dispute with the government is in no way upsetting their plans for India.
He said he believed in India and also the data in it. After Germany, India is a priority market for Vodafone for long-term investments in technology and data, he added.
He said the proposed $ 3 billion investment excludes spectrum fee the company has to pay.
"First, India has an opportunity for growth because of population and other factors. We will be long-term players. I am happy we are here for long-term investment. I am not here for 4 years but for 20 years and more," Colao said.
To a question, he said the tax issue will not affect Vodafone's hiring plans and investment and developing network in India.
The British telecom major is facing a tax liability of over Rs 11,200 crore, along with interest, on its 2007 acquisition of Honk Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa's stake in India's telecom major, Hutchison Essar.