Jaitley responds to Rahul’s ‘Fair and Lovely’ jibe, mocks Cong record
In a sharp response to Rahul Gandhi’s “Fair and Lovely” remark on income disclosure scheme, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday reminded the Congress of its “own track record” of bringing a scheme in 1997, under which there was no penalty for disclosure of black money.
Intervening in the debate in Rajya Sabha on the Motion of Thanks on President’s address, he said the government has no hesitation in releasing the names of those accused of possessing black money, but it would do so as per procedure and once criminal cases are registered against them.
Defending the income disclosure schemes introduced by the government, he said in the last 21 months “we have shown intent” and will not spare anyone possessing black money and will punish them with strict laws brought in now.
“When you make comments on steps we are taking on black money, please honestly consider your track record,” Jaitley said, attacking the Congress whose vice-president had last week alleged in the Lok Sabha that the disclosure scheme was “Fair and Lovely” to allow conversion of black money into white.
To hit back, Jaitley referred to a similar scheme in 1997 announced by the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
“Some comments were made with regard to the income disclosure scheme that we have just announced. Compare it with what had happened in the past. In the past you had several schemes...When your leaders criticise us, they should realise what had happened in the past,” he said.
Reacting to Opposition’s criticism on black money, he said, the new scheme announced by the government is to give a chance to people to declare their untaxed incomes and it was “not an amnesty scheme”. “If you have an income, which has escaped tax, declare it, pay tax plus 50 per cent penalty. This is not an amnesty in which there is 50 per cent penalty,” he said.
Pointing out at Chidambaram’s scheme, which saw many honest taxpayers being taken to court, the finance minister said, “An amnesty scheme, in which people were asked to just pay 30 per cent tax and declare it by paying at 1987 incometax rates. Most declarants were children and women as people invested in their names. Honest taxpayers went to court...”
He said, “Somehow that decision was averted, but the effect of that scheme is that the next year, there was no buoyancy in tax revenue collection.”
On disclosure of names of black money, Jaitley said, “We cannot make the names of black money holders public at will.
Revealing details will take time...but, people not disclosing black money, will be dealt with strictly and punished.”
The Finance Minister said “there is a procedure of making names (of those holding black money accounts in foreign banks) public. If we make it public, it will help the account holders.”
“Your advice (to make names public) is a bonafide advice, but it will land the Government of India in a trap. All your cooperation treaties have a covenant that information is being provided on a condition and that condition is that it can be made public only if a case is registered against the account holder. If you start using it for political purposes, then it will disentitle you to get more information. The best way of helping the accused is a breach of treaty. That is not an advise we are following. But we will stricly follow the procedure,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley accuses Cong of ‘colluding’ with accused in Ishrat case
Amid new claims in the Ishrat Jahan episode, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday accused the Congress of “colluding” with the accused and “unbaring” national security apparatus in the case to “fix” PM Narendra Modi.
He raked up the issue in Rajya Sabha while intervening in a debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address while he was responding to attack over the government over issues like “intolerance”. He said the controversy related to the Ishrat episode was not simply a case of changing the affidavit but the UPA government had changed the composition of SIT on a couple of occasions.
“You (Congress-led UPA) colluded with the accused....You allowed them bail... and in the process, you unbared the entire security apparatus of India. All this was done because you wanted to fix a political leader... That was not intolerance, that was the law,” Jaitley said.