This refers to the editorial “Going after secret foreign accounts” (Sept. 9) which makes a shocking revelation that unaccounted money amounting up to a whopping Rs.70 lakh crore has been secretly invested by Indians in Swiss banks and certain other centres and that the government is hapless in unearthing it from those banks. Evasion of tax is a crime. Don’t foreign countries oblige the Interpol in tracking down and deporting criminals? On the same analogy, why cannot the Swiss bank be prevailed upon to follow the international code of conduct in identifying tax evaders and quantifying the amount deposited by them? Or, why cannot the Centre follow the example of the United States by citing the Swiss banks’ complicity with the Indian tax evaders and access the secret accounts? And if the bank authorities are unwilling to divulge information, is it not possible to mobilise the pressure of international community to force them to amend their laws to keep such deposits to a minimum?
No doubt a substantial portion of the money stashed away in Swiss banks is ill-gotten and is kept secret to evade tax. Public sentiment in the country would be strongly in favour of redeeming at least part of this wealth and putting it to use for development or social causes. The government should pressure the Swiss authorities and enter into bilateral treaty to facilitate this. The other way could be giving an honourable exit to those who make a voluntary disclosure.
R. Unni Krishnan,
Alas! The poor Indian peasants cannot even comprehend what Rs. 70 lakh crore is. It has been estimated that with the black money we can repay 13 times over our country’s foreign debt. The huge pile is actually the booty of the big fish and what the law-breakers looted from the people of the country. As promised at the time of election campaign, the UPA government should take steps to bring back the money and use it for development, besides taking criminal action against the offenders.