Govt spells out steps to track sly money

Multi-agency probe ordered

Govt spells out steps to track sly money

Amid mounting pressure to tackle corrupt­ion in high places and unearth black money, the government on Sunday an­­nounced that it had commissioned an in-depth study to quantify the unaccounted income and wealth stashed within and outside India.

The study, expected to be completed in about 16 months, has been undertaken by the country’s three top level institutions, which will also profile the activities used for money-laundering and identify the causes of black money and the sectors in which it is generated.

“As of now, there are no reliable estimates of black money generated and held within and outside the country,” the Finance Ministry, which commissioned the study, said. The study will also suggest ways to detect and prevent unaccounted money, bringing it into the tax net.

Work on the study, which commenced in March, is being undertaken by the National Council for Applied Economic Research, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and National Institute of Financial Management .

First study

The first study on unaccounted money was conducted by NIPFP way back in 1985. The ministry said that the estimates, which are not reliable, vary between $ 462 billion and $ 1.4 trillion. Even as a joint panel of ministers and social activists, including Anna Hazare, is working on the draft Lokpal Bill, yoga guru Ramdev has threatened to go on huger strike in Delhi from June 4 on the issue of black money.

Some reports of WikiLeaks in the recent weeks, which estimated that the maximum number of foreign unaccounted deposits abroad belonged to the Indians, have embarrassed the government. Recently, the Supreme Court, too, made scathing remarks on the government’s inability to tackle black money in the wake of disclosures made in the Hasan Ali’s case.

The government has constituted a committee of high-level officials, including the chief of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), to suggest a legal framework for confiscating such wealth by declaring it as “national assets.” CBDT officials had met Ramdev at Haridwar to explain measures taken to bring back black money to the country.

Another panel

The government had also set up a committee, comprising heads of various probe agencies and specialised departments, to monitor investigation and initiate steps to bring back black money stashed in tax havens. The government is also amending the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements with different countries and entering into Tax Information Exchange Agreements  with tax havens.

In black and white

*  The government announces an in-depth study to quantify black money
* The study began in March and it would be completed in the next 16 months
*  The study has been undertaken by the country’s three top level institutions
*  It will also identify the causes of black money and the sectors in which it is generated.
*  The study will suggest ways to detect and prevent unaccounted money
*  The first study was conducted in 1985

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