Black buck brings BJP, AAP together
The BJP government’s initiative to bring black money back to India got a boost from the most unexpected quarter on Monday as Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Prashant Bhushan supported the move.
In a letter to the prime minister Narendra Modi, Bhushan wrote: ‘The primary reason why black money has such a stranglehold on our economy is because our system not only allows, but in fact encourages the siphoning out of illicit funds abroad, laundering those funds through tax havens, and re-investing the same in India, as legitimate investment through non-transparent instruments such as participatory notes, and anonymous investments through companies registered in tax havens.’
‘By making a few simple changes to the laws of our country, which are given full sanction by the UN Convention Against Corruption, we can hope to severely curtail the flow of black money in this economy,’ added Bhushan.
Meanwhile, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said that the government had not received any communication from Switzerland about ‘black money’ suspected to be stashed in Swiss banks. His comments followed media reports that Switzerland is ready to share with India a list of names of Indian account holders who they suspect of not paying taxes. The minister said he is writing to the Swiss authorities to ‘expedite the process of sharing the information.’
Even the Swiss government on Monday said that it was not preparing any new lists of Indians with illegal accounts in Switzerland. Mario Tuor, a spokesperson for the Federal Finance Ministry said on Monday he was surprised to read reports in the Indian media to the effect that Switzerland was ‘readying a list’ to hand over to the Indian government and the newly-set up Special Investigating Team (SIT).
‘We don’t know what they are talking about,’ said Tuor. According to reports, Swiss authorities had been in touch with SIT and India was on the verge of receiving names of people who had stashed their assets illegally in banks in the Alpine country.
Also the Swiss Embassy said in a statement: ‘Switzerland understands and shares India’s wish to fight tax evasion and is committed to complying with the relating international standards.’
The Reserve Bank of India has directed all banks and financial institutions to provide information and documents sought by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to unearth black money. RBI issued a notification to this effect on Monday.
The SIT, under the chairmanship of former Justice M B Shah, was constituted by the Narendra Modi-led government on its first day in office, in pursuance of a July 2011 Supreme Court judgment.