‘Govt has nothing to hide on black money’

Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee listens to a question during a press conference in New Delhi, January 25. (AP Photo)

New Delhi, January 25 (Agencies): Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said that the Central Government has nothing to hide on black money issue and the Prime Minister has asked him to share the information with public. But he claimed that so far the Government has no reliable estimate of black money, which could be between USD 500 billion to USD 1400 billion. “No country is going to share information unless there is a legal framework,” said Mukherjee.
Claiming that various estimates of black money are unverifiable assumptions and approximations, Mukherjee said, “If we start revealing information, countries will accuse of us violating international norms”. A current study by the Global Financial Integrity has estimated present value of illicit money outflow to be around USD 462 billion. Emphasising that there is no reliable estimates of black money generated by Indians within and outside the country, the Finance Minister said, “It’s necessary to find out sources of black money so that its generation can be prevented”.
“Swiss bank has been persistently refusing to divulge information on black money,” he said. “I have signed an agreement with Swiss authorities, we will be able to get information from Swiss banks by amending the double taxation norms,” he added. India has amended DTAA with 23 countries which will enable us to seek banking information, informed Mukherjee. “India is updating laws on transfer pricing mechanism to bring it at par with international standards as part of attempts to bring back the black money stashed abroad,” said Mukherjee. India has started receiving information of Indians who have generated income outside the country under double taxation avoidance agreements, he informed.
He also informed that the Government has constituted a multi disciplinary committee to get studies conducted, to estimate the quantum of illicit funds generated by Indian citizens. The Government has formulated a five pronged strategy which consists of joining the global crusade against black money, creating an appropriate legislative framework, setting up institution for dealing with illicit funds and developing systems for implementation. But he said that there is a way to get information when Income Tax authorities decide to prosecute offenders. “Eight more Income Tax international overview units to be setup...right now there are two units,” he said.