Akhilesh Ranjan cannot help being influential. It is the nature of his job as competent authority for India, one of the economies with the strongest growth rates in the world in recent years, a place that every notable international company has extensive investment plans for.
For multinational taxpayers, not many people are more important than the competent authorities - the national tax officials that negotiate with each other through the mutual agreement procedure process about the operation of treaties and other aspects of international tax such as bilateral advance pricing agreements. They play a critical role in relieving cases of double taxation.
After more than three decades in the Indian revenue, Ranjan stepped into the role of competent authority for India in July 2013, for a five-year term, under more pressure than most. Apart from occupying the position in a leading developing-world economy, and so of keen interest to taxpayers with designs on selling their products to Indian companies and consumers, it was also felt he got the role because of unhappiness with the intransigence of his predecessor regarding the amount of tax he felt was due to India in cross-border matters. It was even rumoured that the incumbent was moved because the US refused to deal with him anymore.
Ranjan has started well in his new position. As well as making contact with officials in other countries, he has been open to meeting with taxpayers and their advisers, and industry organisations. This early impact is likely to continue for the next five years, though the scrutiny of his work will be intense.
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