Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the Government is working on a new Bill on cryptocurrency which will take into account the rapidly changing dimensions in virtual currency space. It will be presented to the Cabinet soon and brought in Parliament during the ongoing session.
The Enforcement Directorate is probing eight cases of cryptocurrency-related fraud, she said, before stressing that sharing more information may not be in the“larger public interest”. The Minister was answering questions posed by several MPs during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha. BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta asked whether an outright ban of the currency is desirable.
The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 is included in the tentative legislative business for the winter session. The description of the Bill, which said private cryptocurrency will be banned, created a huge furore and caused the crash of the crypto market in India. The listing was based on the old Bill.
“Yes, last time [monsoon session] there was a Bill but subsequently because there were other dimensions...That Bill has been reworked. And in a way the Bill which is coming now is a new Bill. But, never mind, the work done on that Bill has all been taken on board here.”
She refused to divulge the contours of the new Bill. “The issues pertaining to regulatory capacities and also the fact that it has proliferated in the last two-three years, are well taken note of,” she said.
Asked if the Government proposes to ban misleading advertisements in media, she said the guidelines of the Advertising Standards Council of India are being studied which are also being looked into “so that we can take, if necessary, some kind of a position or a decision to see how we are going to handle it”.
Ms. Sitharaman said the Government, the RBI and the Securities Exchange Board of India have been cautioning people about the cryptocurrencies that could be a “high risk” area and “more can be done” to create awareness. She reiterated that cryptocurrencies are unregulated in India and the Government does not collect data on these transactions.
To queries from MP Sushil Kumar Modi, Ms. Sitharaman said non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are also unregulated and clarified that no separate tax rate governs the income earned by crypto-exchanges and other crypt-service providing platforms.
Their income, she said, is liable for tax under the head Business or Profession under Chapter IV of the Income Tax Act of 1961. total income, for taxation purposes, shall include all income from any source derived.