Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley has prioritised the rights of global Indian professionals during his ongoing US visit.
The so-called Totalisation Agreement has been on the India-US bilateral agenda for a while now. It is aimed at ensuring the rights of Indian professionals who contribute an estimated $1 billion annually to the US social security system.
While US work visas are issued for a maximum of six years, eligibility for social security benefits in the country require residence of more than 10 years. India has been pushing for a comprehensive totalisation pact to allow all Indian professionals to benefit from social security irrespective of the time of residence.
Jaitley, during his nine-day US visit, indicated some movement on this long-pending issue: "There is a much greater understanding on subjects of mutual interest.”
In a series of meetings with US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and US Trade Representative Mike Froman, the Indian minister discussed a range of issues including intellectual property rights (IPR) and Bilateral Investment Treaty which seeks to protect investments between the two nations.
He also sought to address concerns among the global investor community on issues such as retrospective taxation: “We do not intend that any fresh action under the old retrospective laws be taken.
“So for the future, this is a closed issue. And investors are quite appreciative of that. As far as past is concerned, it relates to only some individual companies and the issue is pending before some judicial or dispute redressal mechanism body.”
On India’s steady growth prospects, he added: “"I can't say as to what figure India's growth rate would achieve. But I am certainly of the view that the 7.5 per cent growth that we are presently at is not India's optimum potential.
“This year, we hope to touch about eight per cent. Once the cumulative effect of all these plus favourable global winds, I think the journey between eight and 10 per cent is not an impossible journey.”