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Arun Jaitley terms the US visa hike as discriminatory

Arun Jaitley
Arun Jaitley

Arun Jaitley : Union Finance Minister

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has raised the issue of hike in the US visa fee for Indian technology professionals, which he said was targeted largely at the Indian IT (information technology) companies. “The finance minister held a bilateral meeting with United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman expressing India’s concern over the hike in the H-1B and L1 visa fee which is discriminatory and in effect, largely targeted at Indian IT companies,” the union finance ministry said in a statement.

Jaitley is currently on a seven-day official tour to Washington DC to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and other associated meetings.

Jaitley is accompanied by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan, Secretary Economic Affairs Shaktikanta Das, and Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian.

Jaitley also emphasised upon India’s keenness for early conclusion of a Totalization Agreement with the United States, for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of incomes with respect to social security taxes.

“As per industry estimates, Indian professionals have contributed more than $25 billion to the US social security during the last decade, without being able to retrieve their contributions,” the statement said.

Jaitley added that India looks forward to strengthening and deepening of its economic engagement with the US.

“On 7.5 percent by global standards or by world standards, in the current situation are we doing well? The answer is Yes. But by our own requirement standards are we doing well enough? I think, we can do better,” Jaitley said at the event.

“Does 7.5 percent satisfy either the Indian government, me or the prime minister or India’s political opinion? The answer is no. I think, by our own yardstick, we realise that we have potential in a helpful environment to do better,” he said.

The minister said the Indian economy is estimated to register 7.6 percent growth in FY 2015-16, notwithstanding contraction of global exports and two consecutive years of shortfall in monsoon.

“Amid weaker outlook across the globe, India’s experience of strong economic growth, comfortable price situation, low current account deficit, and adherence to fiscal recovery path has projected it as an outpost of opportunity for global investors,” he said. (IANS)

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