Despite the recent kerfuffle over proposals to impose a £3,000 (Rs 2.7 lakh) security bond on Indians seeking visas, Britain's high commissioner to India Sir James Bevan, in an interview with ET, insisted that his country is open to Indian talent and businesses. He declined to speak specifically on the tax dispute involving Vodafone, but said foreign businesses expect a stable and predictable tax regime as well as systems to resolve disputes expeditiously. Edited excerpts: How should one interpret the UK's proposal for a security bond of £3,000 on visa seekers from India? The important thing about that is what the prime minister said when he was here in February. He said Britain is open to Indians. It is in our interest to invite Indian businesses and students. We will have visa and migration systems that do that. But it is also in our interest to make sure that we do not allow illegal entry to the country. Every country does that. On the bond issue, there is discussion going on in the British government and a decision will be taken in due course. What sort of bond condition will we have, who will it impact and under what conditions will be decided. Whatever the outcome, Britain will remain open to India. Can we expect a formal statement? I don't want to speculate because we really don't know what the outcome will be. The Indian government has made its views clear. We will have to wait and see what the outcome will be. Between advocating a strategic relationship and imposing a security bond on visa-seekers, there seems to be disconnect among British policymakers. There are debates in every government on the migration issue. There will be tension in the way we protect our borders. There's tension on the ways to control migration and you see this debate being played in public. I am confident we'll come to a conclusion that's appropriate. The Vodafone tax issue is often cited as an indicator of investment climate in India. What is your view? I won't comment on the specific case as it's still going through a process. I can say that all businesses need a stable and transparent tax regime. Businesses need to know about the tax regime before investing in a country and how they can take disputes to courts expeditiously. I hope and believe that Vodafone and Indian government will come to a mutual agreement. There is a perception that India-EU free trade agreement talks are in a quagmire. I think there's a strong commitment on the side of British government and European Union to establish strong relationship with India. This deal will be good for both economies. I think it is very much in our interest that the deal is signed. At a time when negotiations are stalled, I think it is important that we take it forward. Apart from the economic argument for our deal, there is a strategic element to it. We will do everything we can to help it come to a successful conclusion. How should well-wishers of UK view its attitude towards the EU? I don't think we have a conflict, in our opinion. We want a European Union that is open and market oriented in which UK is a strong member. We want to have negotiation with our EU partners and improve some of the factors. Government supports continued membership in the European Union. My personal view is that Britain will stay in the EU as it is in our trade, foreign policy and security interest. We are having a debate about how to modernise the European Union, but there is no conflict. Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/interviews/despite-visa-bond-plan-uk-to-remain-open-to-indians-sir-james-bevan-high-commissioner-uk/articleshow/20961909.cms
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