New Delhi, Dec 14: Stating the government would bring out a white paper on the issue of black money, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday dismissed reports that an MP was among the rich Indians with black money stashed away abroad.
‘There is no MP in the list,’ Mukherjee asserted, replying to a debate in the Lok Sabha on the huge quantum of black money deposited by Indians in foreign banks. The house later rejected by a voice vote an adjournment motion on the issue moved by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Stating that under an agreement with Switzerland, tax related information will be available to India from April 2011, the finance minister said the government will introduce a bill to strengthen anti-money laundering laws soon.
Mentioning he had obtained information on tax evaders from the French government, Mukherjee said it can not be disclosed as it will dry up the sources.
Mukherjee said tax treaties with 60 out of 75 countries were amended and this would enable the government to track black money.
However, he clarified the information may be made public in case of criminal cases or acts of money laundering against persons named by the foreign governments.
‘We have 36,000 pieces of information, names of persons… But we cannot disclose the names,’ Mukherjee said, citing legalities involved in maintaining confidentiality on the matter.
‘Tomorrow same nations (that have shared information) can tell us, minister you have violated international agreements… we won’t give it to you now,’ the finance minister said.
Observing there were various estimates of black money available ranging from $500 billion to $1,900 billion, the minister said he has asked three public institutes to calculate the quantum of black money stashed abroad.
Stating that there would be a white paper on the issue, Mukherjee said the government was working ‘to prevent the menace and bring back’ the money that had not been credibly quantified.
He said the government’s efforts to deal with the issue had shown some results and sought the opposition’s support to fight the problem jointly. He also asked the members if they wanted to make the Income Tax Act a penal law.
He said the government had prevented loss of profit through tax evasion to the tune of Rs.66,000 crore. The Central Board of Direct Taxes had unearthed concealed income worth Rs.18,750 crore last financial year, he said, adding, ‘Checking tax evaders is a constant battle.’