Kathmandu, Nov. 27 (ANI): Asserting that India is committed to assist the government and people of Nepal in these processes of historic change, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said relations with Kathmandu are and will continue to be a matter of the highest priority for New Delhi.
In his opening remarks after signing the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) here, Mukherjee said: "India has an abiding interest in the success of Nepal's transition to multi-party democracy and the completion of the peace process. A peaceful, democratic and prosperous Nepal is in the interest of the Nepali people, of India and of our region. India is committed to assist the Government and people of Nepal in these processes of historic change in Nepal."
"I am convinced of the significance and the great potential of India-Nepal relations, which is heightened in these times of rapid change. Relations with Nepal are and will continue to be a matter of the highest priority for India," he added.
Mukherjee said that he reviewed bilateral economic cooperation with Nepal Finance Minister and discussed ways and means to expand the economic relations between the two countries.
"During the visit, I called on the Prime Minister Rt Hon'ble Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and will call on the President Rt Hon'ble Dr. Ram Baran Yadav and I also had bilateral consultations with my counterpart Hon'ble Mr. Barsaman Pun, the Finance Minister of Nepal where we reviewed bilateral economic cooperation and discussed ways and means to expand the economic relations between the two countries," said Mukherjee.
"I briefed Rt Hon'ble Prime Minister on the progress made on implementation of the rich and vast agenda agreed upon during the visit of the Prime Minister of Nepal to India as contained in the Joint Press Statement," he added.
Mukherjee expressed his delight over revising the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.
"As you know, I am here primarily to sign the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) as was agreed during the visit of Prime Minister of Nepal to India on October 20-23, 2011. I am happy that we have revised the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement today," said Mukherjee.
"The revised DTAA will provide tax stability to the residents of India and Nepal and facilitate mutual economic cooperation as well as stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services between India and Nepal. In the revised DTAA the threshold withholding tax rates on dividends, interest, etc., are rationalised to reflect the present day situation and developments in the area of international taxation," he added.
Mukherjee further said : "India has 81 such DTAAs. In line with the best practices followed, we have incorporated in this DTAA also, the provisions for effective exchange of information, assistance in collection of taxes between tax authorities and the anti-abuse provisions to ensure that the benefits of the Agreement are availed of by the genuine residents and not misused by third country residents."
"In the area of exchange of information, the revised DTAA provides for internationally accepted standards including sharing of bank information and sharing of information without domestic tax interest. Further, the information received can be shared with other law enforcement agencies with the consent of the information supplying country," he added.
Mukherjee recalled the meeting of the Joint Commission of Water Resources that was recently hosted in New Delhi
"India hosted the most useful meeting of the Joint Commission of Water Resources in New Delhi two days ago. The Commerce Secretaries are going to meet next month. We are also working to fix the dates for holding the next meetings of Secretaries for Home Affairs and Ministers of Water Resources," said Mukherjee.
"We have sought preliminary inputs from Nepal as a prelude to the review of treaties and agreements to be undertaken by the Foreign Secretaries. We have agreed that the Bilateral Joint Commission should be convened at an early date to review the entire gamut of the bilateral relationship including the requests from Nepal for Indian assistance for implementation of priority development projects," he added.
Mukherjee said that he would have discussions with several other leaders of Nepal.
"I will also have discussions with leaders from a wide cross section of political parties including the President of Nepali Congress Mr. Sushil Koirala, former Prime Minister and Chairman of UCPN (Maoist) Mr. Puspha Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', former Prime Minister and Chairman of CPN (UML) Mr. Jhala Nath Khanal and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs and President of MJF-Loktantrik Mr. Bijay Gacchadar," said Mukherjee.
"I conveyed to the leadership that Government of India welcomes the 7-Point Agreement reached among the political parties that provides a firm basis for successfully concluding the remaining aspects of Nepal's peace process," he added.
Mukherjee also congratulated the people and the political parties in Nepal for their commitment to peacefully resolving outstanding issues in a spirit of consensus and for displaying enlightened leadership.
"We congratulate the people and the political parties in Nepal for their commitment to peacefully resolving outstanding issues in a spirit of consensus and for displaying enlightened leadership. India fully supports these efforts to pave the way for Nepal's transition to a pluralistic and inclusive multi-party democracy," said Mukherjee.
"I assured the Nepalese leaders of India's strong and continued commitment of support to Nepal in its transition to a democratic, prosperous, peaceful and stable future," he added. (ANI)