Parliamentary panel nudges govt to curb black money with ‘greater vigour’
The Standing Committee on Finance also called for urgent rationalising of ‘long delayed’ direct tax laws in the country
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in a report tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday has asked the government to continue their efforts "with greater vigour" to unearth and bring to book unaccounted wealth and income both within and outside the country.
The Committee, headed by Congress leader and former Union Minister M. Verappa Moily, said that it expected much wider tax base as well as actual tax yield consequent to the government's efforts on the black money.
"The Committee would expect the Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue) to continue their efforts with greater vigour to unearth and bring to book unaccounted income/wealth both within and outside the country including follow-up action on the seven reports of the special investigation team (SIT) constituted on black money as well as the three study reports on estimation of unaccounted money," the Committee observed in its report.
It held that it was difficult to tell accurately the quantum of black money stashed abroad by the Indians. According to different studies, the unaccounted for wealth outside the country was estimated in the range of USD 216.48 billion to USD 490 billion over various periods.
In March 2011, the Union Finance Ministry had asked three premier institutes -- the National Institute of Public Policy and Finance (NIPFP), National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) to conduct studies to assess and survey unaccounted income and wealth both inside and outside the country.
The committee, the report added, would thus expect more fruitful outcomes on this count, both in terms of much wider tax base as well as actual tax yield.
"In the context, it also desires that the long-delayed direct tax code should also be finalised at the earliest and reintroduced in Parliament with a view to simplify and rationalise the direct tax laws in the country," it added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in 2014 promised to bring back all the black money stashed in Swiss banks and had even promised ₹15 lakh to each individual living on the poverty line. That obviously did not happen.
Neither have the names of those Indians holding undeclared accounts in Swiss banks have been made public by the government despite repeated demands from the opposition.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign, Modi did not mention anything about the black money.
The panel had submitted its report titled 'Status of Unaccounted Income/Wealth Both Inside and Outside the Country - A Critical Analysis' to the Lok Sabha Speaker on March 28, well before the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
The committee also noted that as only a "limited number of stakeholders" could be examined by it, owing to the paucity of time, "this report might be considered as a preliminary report", pending examination of other witnesses including non-official witnesses or experts on the subject and after evidence replies of the Finance Ministry which are awaited.
(With inputs from PTI)