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'Indians on biz trips to UK should get visas quickly'

June 24, 2009 18:24 IST

Indians on business trips to Britain should be provided visas on short notice to allow them to explore commercial opportunities in the country, Lord Navnit Dholakia, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords said on Wednesday.

Participating in a debate on 'British Opportunity in India and Indian Investments in the United Kingdom,' Dholakia said, "Bilateral trade is impacted by our own visa regime."

Drawing attention towards the difficulties faced by Indian businessmen in obtaining visas, Dholakia said, "We should make sure that business visitors and senior providers are facilitated to travel to the UK to explore business opportunities and business contracts.

"Would not the minister accept that timelines are short in the business world?" he asked.

He cited the example of the IT industry and said, "It is particularly impacted by issues such as delivery of service which is dependent on movement of professionals at short notice."

He also raised the issue of classification of Indian products in Britain. Indian whisky, which is not made of malt but of molasses, cannot be sold as whisky. "So it is now available as rum," Dholakia noted.

He said, "I do not wish to undermine the quality of Scotch but India consumes a substantial amount of Black Label and yet it cannot reciprocate its own product in the UK."

The Liberal Democrats leader also sought exemption from social security contributions for those Indian professionals visiting the country for a short duration.

"They pay social security contributions despite no social security benefits being available to them," he said.

H S Rao in London
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