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Updated: May 22, 2012 00:52 IST

‘Let fast track courts take on black money’

Ashok Dasgupta
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Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaks in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
PTI Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaks in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

This is one of the suggestions made in White Paper issued by government

Without providing an official estimate of black money stashed away at home or abroad, leave alone disclosing the names of any offender, the government, in its White Paper on black money, on Monday pitched for deterrent punishment through fast track courts to expeditiously deal with such financial offences as part of its multi-pronged strategy to curb the menace of illicit funds.

Tabled in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, specifically at the behest of BJP leader L.K. Advani, the 97-page document said the government would have to take a decision whether India should have a revenue-sharing agreement with Switzerland from taxes on assets held by Indian residents in the European nation without learning the identity of the defaulting Indian residents on the lines of similar bilateral treaties that the Alpine nation already has entered into with the U.K. and Germany. “The government looks forward to discussion on this important issue within and outside Parliament before taking any further steps,” it said.

The White Paper sought to make it clear that the objective of the document was to place in the public domain various facets and dimensions of black money and its complex relationship with the policy and administrative regime while presenting the framework, policy options and strategies that the Centre has been pursuing to tackle the issue.

In the light of the recent initiatives and developments, the paper “is expected to contribute to the ongoing debate on the issue of black money and help develop a broad political consensus regarding the future course of action to address it,” it said.

Detailing the reasons and various means and modes of black money generation, the paper took cognizance of one estimate of the amount of Indian deposits in Swiss banks which noted that the total liabilities of Swiss banks towards Indians at the end of 2010 totalled 1.945 billion Swiss francs or about Rs. 9,295 crore. A more startling revelation is that this marks a sharp decrease from Rs. 23,373 crore in 2006.

The paper also provides a pointer on how the sharp reduction may have come about saying: “The illicit money transferred outside India may come back to India through various methods such as hawala, mispricing, foreign direct investment (FDI) through beneficial tax jurisdictions, raising of capital by Indian companies through global depository receipts (GDRs), and investment in Indian stock market through participatory notes. It is possible that a large amount of money transferred outside India might actually have returned through these means.”

While this holds true not only for illicit funds in Swiss banks but also black money stashed away in various tax havens such as Cayman Islands and Virgin Islands as also low or no tax countries such as Mauritius and Singapore, it is significant that the budget for the current fiscal has sought to plug some of these loopholes by amending or incorporating some of the provisions of the Income Tax Act.

For once, the paper has suggested improved reporting and monitoring systems to track bullion and gold jewellery transactions and simple reporting systems in real estate deals to facilitate the development of a nationwide database to curb black money proliferation. It also made a case for preventing the misuse of “off market” and “dabba trading” (trading outside recognised stock exchanges) on equities and commodities market through further amendments to the tax laws.

The White Paper noted that one of the “four different pillars” in its strategy to stem the black money menace would be the introduction of the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) as it would be a major step towards integrating the efforts of different agencies dealing with the problem, especially when the coordination between the various agencies is much less than desired. In particular, the mandatory quoting of the PAN for purchase of bullion worth above Rs. 5 lakh was aimed at catching such transactions.

In this regard, the paper also advocated the use of debit and credit cards for high value transaction as these would automatically leave a trail. “... there could be promotion of banking channels, including use of credit and debit cards since they leave adequate audit trails and hence disincentivise black money generation,” it said.

Suggesting broad strategies on reducing disincentives against voluntary compliance, reforms in vulnerable sectors of the economy and creation of effective credible deterrence, the paper noted that black money cannot be effectively fought unless the judicial machinery to deal with it is specialised and the trial of offences is expeditious and punishments exemplary. The Law Ministry, it said, should take up the issue of setting up fast-track special courts to deal with all financial offences on a priority basis. Alongside, the High Courts may consider setting up exclusive economic offences courts with special summary procedure.

On the issue of institutions like the Lokpal and Lokayuktas, the White Paper said they “need to be put in place at the earliest, in the Centre and the States respectively, to expedite investigations into cases of corruption and bring the guilty to justice.”

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We all feel relieved when we get rid of the black money while purchasing land or property (the big difference in the market value and registered value). Most of us spend money on recreation which is blcak money.Apart from the 30 to 40% of the poor all others in our society has black money and wilfully encourages them in land deal and while purchasing gold and other articles. How can we justify that politicians (one among us) should not possess black money.

from:  R.Manivarmane
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 15:20 IST

Another eyewash exercise by our ruling BABUs...the corruption in Indian Politics started with Nehru becoming the PM and he laid a solid foundation for corruption by starting the Nehru family accounts in Swiss banks...
The people can only talk about it...nobody can take action...Now Parliament also agreed that they also cannot take action, but just talk about it...

from:  Arun
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 14:39 IST

The ill-gotten gains stashed at home are slowly being drained abroad. Black money is generated by the desire to evade taxes and hide assets disproportionate to known sources of income. Political discourse on the subject has paid little attention. It is hard to quantify — problem of illegal bank deposits abroad. Political considerations are undermining the fight against black money. Black money refers to the sum total of unaccounted income, and not just the funds spirited away to Switzerland, Lichtenstein, or some other foreign safe haven. But unless it comes to grips with the overall pathology of black money, the political economy of India is likely to remain vulnerable to corruption. In proceeding against unaccounted money, the judiciary must push for urgent and far-reaching reforms in the way the Indian property market functions. Corruption in government contracts and licensing may generate large individual chunks of black money but for sheer overall volume, the top culprit is property. Every day, property transactions up and down the country add to the national stock of unaccounted money. Simply put, buyers and sellers collude in under-reporting the true value of the transaction. Usually, more than half the true sale price is paid in cash, depriving the state of capital gains tax and stamp duty. The cash received is often recycled back into the property market, where the returns are extremely high. Government must devise a way to bring our wealth back from abroad. If it can also push for simple reforms in the property market to clean up transactions, it could make a huge contribution towards ending the problem of black money. Black money stashed in overseas jurisdictions accounts for nearly 20 per cent of India's GDP. By this count, black money generated every year must be close to a colossal Rs 4,00,000crores which is even more than the entire budget of the Government at the Centre.It means that large amounts of money is outside the scheme of taxation. Amnesty schemes encourage tax evasion by allowing the dishonest taxpayers to move freely after paying tax on money at lower rates and lower value prevailing at an earlier date on one hand and shake the faith of honest taxpayers in the dignity and sanctity of the systems. "Draconian laws do not solve problems. Current laws have enough teeth. Just effective implementation is required" Franchising of various revenue earning departments such as registration offices, income tax departments, stamp duty, VAT etc can be one of the best ways to curb black money and corruption.

from:  Prof.P.Madhu Sudana Rao
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 12:31 IST

@ S.N.IYER: I bow my head to the sincerity of S.N.IYER Saab and curse
the government for running its affairs in a whimsical manner.

from:  Murtuza
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 12:30 IST

Any system can check malpractices but malpractices can not be
removed.Corruption and Black money issues can not be finished with the
agitation of Annaji and Ramdevji unless all of us do our duty with a
great honesty.We should do our duty with great ethical values wherever
we are sitting for our duty.Our inner voice is great law.We should
comply it.

from:  CA Satish Chandra Yadav
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 11:26 IST

Enough said about the fraudulent purposes of this white paper. Yes, all the top wigs have probably routed their accounts elsewhere. One thing the public shoud demand is for information not as of today but as of the beginning of last three years and full information of the transactions during the last three years.
That way we will at least know how much money was there and how much is there now and what happened to the difference. Anything else is not worth " a pot of warm piss" to quote a former vice president of the USA.

from:  Kris Murthy
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 09:48 IST

UPA government is itself corrupt and how can you expect them to make strong enforcement to catch themselves. it is quite obvious that UPA govt is only showing that they are doing something for tackling black money but everyone knows that nothing will happen.

from:  kunal
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 04:55 IST

Government's reluctance to disclose the names of those who slashed black money
in safe havens abroad and its own estimate of the quantum of black money both
within and outside the country strengthen's once suspicion clearly of their
intention to shield the culprits on this sordid issue. The formation of the Joint Task
Force entrusted with various issues like black money, tax evasion etc. is a clever
ploy to prolong the issue for an endlessly long period of time. This will serve the
double purpose of helping the holders of such money to transfer the same to
safer havens and also keep the people posted periodically with progress on the
subject, giving the impression that they are serious on the issue But the
discerning public will definitely see through the game which at this rate will finally
result in the defeat of the UPA in the 2014 election.

from:  T.S.SREENIVASAN
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 02:17 IST

UPA NDA or call them what you will - they are all the chip of the same block - one look at the large scale rape of the what was once known as the Garden City of India, one look at the continuing apathy that successive governments show in stopping the looting of sand from the banks of Ganges, one look at the deplorable killing of our green fields by rampant adoption of BT variants which never had been tested on the western fields, one look at the scant regard any politician worthy of their stature has for the smooth functioning of the parliament with decorum and dignity especially within a day of committing to the same only last week ... and last but not the least the one lakh crore aircraft deal, the VIP chopper deal all hanging cloud but AIR India GROUNDED and the common man going under ground (naxalism and maosim!)

Perhaps it is only right that cartoons are to be banned not only from our books but also from our polity!!!

Then there may be a silver line to the cloud after all!

from:  R.N. Iyengar
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 01:10 IST

The name"white paper" is misleading. It should be "Black paper on Black Money". It is a disgrace that highly educated politicians have been reduced to boot lickers. It is a reflection of their upbringing- apparently they have not noticed the values of honesty, loyalty to Nation and self respect I strongly beleive every child learns and imbibes qualities more by observing than by being taught.
Thomas Jefferson- past president of USA made only 2 speeches during his tenure as president of USA (perhaps our PM MMS was inspired by this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)..... But Jefferson built wonderful university in Virginia at the age of 76 and died a bankrupt. Can any of our politician ever think of having personal debts? They only know how to earn and stash black money and there are innumerable boot lickers in politics who will work hard to ensure that at the cost of Indian economy, these corrupt politicians get to keep their black money. GOD SAVE INDIA

from:  Vijayalakshmi
Posted on: May 22, 2012 at 00:50 IST

Cover-up is complete. The present finance minister is artful dodger. The nation is in the grip of moral crisis. We woefully lack leaders who could guide us in this hour of grave crisis.

from:  G.Narayanaswamy
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 21:17 IST

For the sake of demonstrating that something is being done by the government
For the eradication of blank money and money laundering a white paper has been
presented.Unless the politicians and bureaucrats who are aiding and abetting
the spread of the menace are not tackled properly no useful purpose will be served
by the presentation of the socalled white paper and it will only be a black paper
with government only knowing what it says.

from:  Sundaresan Krishnamurthi Kittasund
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 20:23 IST

So what is in this "white paper" that can be relied upon to show us a way out of the accrual of black money and the rather free play it has at the moment in our economy? Nothing. If economic offences attracted the death penalty, and we hung a few top level politicians and bureaucrats, we will be getting somewhere. A tax benefit for using debit cards? This is a holler and a hoot. How about compulsory tying of lemons to the cars used by Revenue Department vehicles? Maybe that can yield better luck in unearthing fraudulent transactions!

Suggestions to improve the "moral fibre" of the people of this country!? That is beyond hilarious! We are marinated in a culture of fraud! Let us declare one day in the year a "Bribe Free Day" and see how much we can achieve in that one single day! Then maybe we can extend it to a "Bribe Free Week", if government officials don't go on strike in protest against this hardship!

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 19:40 IST

Without an end to curruption the bulk of blackmoney cannot be stopped. Curruption deprives people of what they are entitled to. This leads to social unrest. In this information age it is imperative that governments be proactive. You can't fool everybody for long.Jai Hind.

from:  Vinod
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 19:01 IST

Indeed, there needs to be a Satyagraha, but we have no leaders anymore with the
kind of moral fibre to lead such a charge. So, we need to make do without
figureheads. We should agitate like the people in Egypt and enforce a two-term
limit in office and stricter controls and taxation of assets owned by our politicians.
After all, they are the ones whose wealth seems to spiral exponentially once they
are elected to office.

Finally, we need action in cases like Vodafone, Reliance etc. where some piece of
paper signed by clueless bureaucrats is held up as a fait accompli. Note that other
countries including the UK (in its dealings with Switzerland) are prepared to ignore
the treaties they have signed because these are recognized as having too many
loopholes.

Treaties cannot be binding in every case.

from:  Vivek
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 18:51 IST

The white paper is a vague statement of proposals. As and when the
proposals become statutes there could be some action. Presently the
government is engaged only in data collection. True to their policy it
would be a selective data collection, avoiding the sensational. It will
be a total hotch-potch, to cover up the powerful.
Nothing will come out of this exercise. It is purely a delay tactic, to
enable the culprits to withdraw the stacked amounts and divert them to
other havens, just like Bofors.

from:  Ramamurthi
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 18:39 IST

The whole paper is wishy washy. Tax payers instead of being
rewarded are only harassed. I have been paying my taxes for the
last 55 years and yet I get no consideration by thw IT
authorities, I recently got a demand notice for a paltry sum
owing to them since 3 years without giving me the reasons. To
know the reasons they asked me to contact the officer at Ayakar
Bhawan. I just paid the amount with an addition of 30% lest they
asked me to pay interest. Big Fish are let off whle a Senior
Citizen who has been law abiding is being harassed. There has
to be a time limit for demand notices.

from:  S N IYER
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 17:45 IST

No expectations from UPA, it will be thrown out of power in 2014 for sure.

from:  Raja Pamarthi
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 17:23 IST

This government is shameless to the core. I don't feel what the Naxalites are doing are wrong. Our corrupt leaders would not listen to non-violent groups.

from:  Saurabh
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 17:12 IST

Even though it is a welcome move on the government part that they are contemplating ways to curb the black money menace, what needs to be addressed is not only the prevention of the act but to trace the colossal amounts of money that is already stashed away in European banks. There is no mention whatsoever on measures to hunt that money and taking possession of the same by government of India since the account holders are obviously not accountable.

from:  Alok Chandar
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 17:11 IST

Although this shows a good effort taken by UPA goverment but still a lot many lacuna lying in this one such no clearcut provision for bringing back money of switerzland into india.it is simple white paper of our netas who himself has huge amount of black money in foreign bank

from:  sonu kumar
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 17:06 IST

This will be Black paper for white money

from:  V.S. BALASUBRAMANIAN
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 16:56 IST

the black money is widely circulated for acquiring flats, land etc. the final destination of the money also is in the form of immovable property, ie land. in my opinion, the land is the sole property of the country and the govt is the sole authority over it. so all the title deeds of the ownership of land should be converted in to an agreement of lease with the government for a stipulated time period. the extra land or flat registered by the same individual should be cancelled. govt should construct house complex for all the citizens by taking back the extra space available with the individuals etc.
if land could not be acquired, the black money and corruption will met an end on its own. if so, there is no requirement of lok pal and such legislations. but i think such a decision requires utmost will power and determination.

from:  P.P. Raumon
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 16:48 IST

Without the two important pieces of information cosisting of the names
of the hoarders, and the amount involved, how can the document tabled
by the Government on black money be called a white paper? The Congress
Party has mastered the art of hoodwinking the people of the nation
over the years. Its intentions and actions in this regard are nothing
but to shield black money hoarders by all possible means. The
government wants to honor International committments while receiving
information on black money from abroad, but not ready to put in place
a stringent check when such money leaves our country and lands in
foreign countries. Strange indeed.

from:  Murtuza
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 16:47 IST

Every political party in India is under the cover of corruption. Very few leaders are honest. Looking at the assets statements of these gentlemen / madams it is very clear that the best profession in India is politics. The Supreme Court asks to give the list of "Black-money holders" but the elected members says that the court can't question the Parliament. In such a situation, can anyone expect justice, honesty or patriotism from this hierarchy ?

from:  Viswanath C
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 16:39 IST

AS it called it is just a white paper, there is nothing in it, neither the names of the individuals nor the information related to the amount of money slashed abroad. Govt says various agencies have done investigation and given the input to prepare this white paper. But there is nothing new in this white paper. This white paper is not going to serve any purpose other than white wash.

from:  Prakash B Deshpande
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 16:29 IST

When there is a terrorist attacks - GoI immediately name Pakistan. So, what is the issue publishing the name of those foreign bank account holders with Black money? Govt is just buying time to allow offenders plan for some scape route and nothing else.

from:  Avinash Baranwal
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 16:18 IST

Say our wildest dream comes true and India somehow gets hold of all the black money(both in India and abroad) .. What next ???? Our respected finance minister will announce the budget 2013 and all the corrupt politicians will bag the oppurtunity . Logically speaking the black money will change its residence and nothing else will happen . The problem with UPA or any Indian government it "effective utilization of money" . Once we become efficient in utilizing resources ,the estimation will be more accurate and hence the increase/decrease in taxing will make more sense .

from:  Akash
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 16:16 IST

What does the White Paper do except for reminding us of things we
already know? One could not expect more from this government!

from:  Neetika
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 15:54 IST

Investing in real estate generates lot of black money as there is huge difference between market value and registerd value. To encourage deposit in banks and other legitimate saving Govt should give tax exemption for such savings made out of legitimate earning after payment of tax.

from:  Citalumni
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 15:51 IST

It is quite disappointing to see this much talked about White Paper not reveal anything beyond what needs to be done, for which there has already been enough public clamour. What has been an area of confusion is the amount of black money stashed away abroad. Various sources project this figure differently. An announcement by the government would have cleared some air. Another upset is the secrecy still being maintained over the name of the account holders in Switzerland and other tax havens by invoking bilateral DTA agreement and on the pretext of investigation. People have started to see this as an attempt by the government to save its skin as they are still not convinced that none within or close to the ruling UPA is owning secret account partly because unlike the BJP, it has not yet issued any proclamation in that regard. However, given the way it is pushing for a Lokpal, it seems to have all the good intentions to reduce corruption in public life and provide better governance.

from:  Mukul Kanti Dutta
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 15:40 IST

When Y.B.Chavan was the finnance minister in 60's, he told that a parralel government was being run with black money. Lack of awareness among indian people helped the looters(politicians) in nexus with exploiters (business people) to amaze billions of $ ($ 500 billion) as black money and stashed the same in the foreign banks. The same looters only ruling us for generations. Who will bring this looters to book. A benovalent dictator is the need of the hour from disciplined forces.

from:  selvaraju
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 15:37 IST

This is just another joke. Earlier the Prime Minister and his Office have disclosed their assets publicly and they were merely in lakhs. Do they expect us to believe that they will come out public with the Black Money they have or even pass a law that will look into it ??? Even if such a law is passed and a CBI inquiry is ordered by the Supreme Court, we all know that CBI is just a puppet in the hands of our respected Parliamentarians and this is where Kiran Bedi's argument to make CBI an autonomous body chips in. Even if a Strong Lokpal (on paper) gets passed, they would hardly be able to recover foolproof evidence to take action and even the arrested could be easily bailed out as it happened with A.Raja.

from:  Surya Karteek Yamujala
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 15:32 IST

Govt. knows that there's big guns in that list, so they 're afraid to reveal. I think black money owner report will not be different from wikileaks. All other countries(more than 160) has obtained the black money information except 16 countries like India, Nigeria, Iran and some of the african and middle east countries etc. All the cabinet ministers 're having their account in swiss bank including UPA chairperson. So dont expect anything from current GOVT to take any action on this matter. This government will always try to make us fool by these white papers.

from:  Pankaj Sharma
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 15:10 IST

The leadership in UPA is corrupt and we should not expect from them the
truth. The only solution is that there should be strong agitation
against the Govt. and let them fill up the jails before getting results.

from:  vicky
Posted on: May 21, 2012 at 14:53 IST
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