New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) The US is considering a pact with India to refund social security contributions by Indians on their return even if they had not worked for a requisite number of years, a top official said Tuesday.
'We have this time very seriously discussed the implications of the totalisation agreement with the Indian government,' said US Under-Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Franklin L. Lavin, who is heading the largest-ever American business delegation to India.
'This issue has been pending for a long time. This time we took it up seriously with the Indian government. But I cannot really say when this will be officially formulated,' he told reporters here.
According to the India-US CEO Forum, which was formed following a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush in Washington last year, Indians contribute some $500 million annually as social security in the US with no benefits accruing to them.
The forum had recommended a totalisation agreement between the two countries so that social security contributions are made in only one country, or a refund-on-return regime is in place when an Indian employee returns to India.
The demand is more from software professionals - with backing from the National Association for Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) - who go to the US for on-shore projects for stints that vary from a few months to three years.
A holder of H1B visa can work for a maximum of six years in the US, but his or her social security contribution can be refunded only after a minimum stint of 10 years under current regulations.
Lavin, who concluded his week-long India visit Tuesday, lauded the country's economic reforms programme and said US companies were seriously considering major investments in India.
'Even though India faces some serious challenges in infrastructure, retail and financial services, yet the country's reform process is on the right track and US is there for support always,' he said.
'In the coming time we will see some big announcements,' said Lavin who was here with a delegation of 238 members who first congregated in Mumbai last week and dispersed to several Indian cities in smaller groups.
The delegation included representatives from some big names like Exxon, GE, Motorola, AT&T, Avaya, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Datacorp, Bank of America and many small and medium firms.