PMLA should be repealed to prevent its ‘weaponisation’: Chidambaram

PMLA should be repealed to prevent its ‘weaponisation’: Chidambaram

Kolkata: The former Finance minister of India and a senior Congress Parliamentarian P Chidambaram said that the existing Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) ought to be repealed to prevent it from being “weaponised” while pointing out that if the incumbent Central government fails to maintain growth above six per cent and if debt grows at four to five per cent a year then India will be heading towards a danger mark.

During the launch of his book, “The Watershed Year: Which Way Will India Go?”, at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival 2024 on Saturday, Congress Rajya Sabha MP P Chidambaram was posed two questions by Millennium Post. With Opposition parties in India, including the Trinamool Congress of Bengal, alleging that the BJP-led Centre is politically using the Enforcement Directorate against them, he was asked if Congress will change the provisions of the PMLA Act if it comes to power after the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Chidambaram said: “Congress did not implement the PMLA willingly. It was passed in 2002 and received the assent of the President in 2003. For whatever reason, that government (NDA) did not notify the Act. When Congress came to office, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is a worldwide body to which we are a member, exerted enormous pressure to notify the Act. There was a clamour in parliament over the matter so we had to notify the Act.”

He added: “I did make two amendments to lessen the rigour of the provision. I made the offence non-cognisable and I made another amendment before notifying it. But I did not anticipate that even this Act could be weaponised. Now, every Act is being weaponised.”

The MP said: “If we (Congress) come to power, PMLA will be repealed. Since we are a member of the FATF and exchange of financial information is vital to our country’s interests, we will make a new PMLA law which is fair, just and reasonable.” Commenting on whether India can go the Sri Lanka way in terms of debt trap given its present 164 lakh crore debt approximately, as alleged by opposition MPs in Parliament, he said: “Central government’s debt to GDP ratio this year will be about 58 per cent. If you add the state’s debt it goes beyond 80 per cent. We have to be careful. If the Central government is able to taper down the fiscal deficit (borrowing) and grow at 6 to 7 per cent we are not in danger. But if the growth rate dips below six per cent and if the debt grows at four to five per cent a year we are nearing the danger mark.”

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