Delhi : White Paper will be issued on black money, Finance Min Pranab Mukherjee announced in the Lok Sabha while disclosing that govt has received 36,000 pieces of information with regard to Indian account holders in banks abroad.
However, Mukherjee rejected Opposition demand for making public the information received, saying it would violate the agreement with foreign countries and also dry up our source of information.
He was replying to a spirited debate on Adjournment Motion on Blackmoney moved by BJP leader L K Advani on Wednesday which was later defeated by voice vote. Samajwadi Party staged a walkout.
Dismissing the Opposition charge of inaction or lagging behind, he said, the government was pursuing the information regarding the illegal accounts abroad rather than publicising details as the account holders could even withdraw money.
“I have got 36,000 pieces of information. If I publish it some country will say you violated the agreement…we cannot share it. If we publish the names then they will withdraw the money,” he said.
“Should I publicise or go and seize it? How is intelligence collected? There is an element of surprise,” he said.
The Minister made it clear that names of Members of Parliament (MPs) did not figure in the information he had received from abroad.
He said revised tax treaty with Switzerland has come into force and would enable India to procure banking details with effect from 1st April 2011.
“I have to ascertain (details),” Mukherjee said, adding “some of them may be genuine account holders who have got the permission of RBI. They may be investors.”
The Indian investors have expanded their operations abroad and publishing names could harm their businesses, he said.
“Shall I publish names, give names?.. We will get publicity,” the Finance Minister said, adding “it will have an impact on industry.”
During his 45-minute reply, he took on the Opposition, particularly Advani, for speculating on the size of blackmoney which according to different estimates range from USD 500 billion to USD 1,900 billion.
“I will bring White Paper. I will bring all information,” he said, adding three economic think-tanks – NIPFP, NIFM and NCAER – have been mandated to make independent and dependable assessments of the quantum of blackmoney in the country.
Mukherjee said there is no conflict of interest between the objective of the Opposition and the government.
“Why can’t we work together. I will not protect any blackmoney holder, my party will not protect any blackmoney holder,” he said.
He slammed the Opposition for pressing for Adjournment Motion on the issue and disrupting Parliament for the same.
“What urgency has it got? This issue has been there since 1948,” he said, attacking the Opposition for linking the issue with the adjournment motion and not allowing the House to function.
Earlier, the Opposition attacked the government alleging it was not doing enough to bring back the unaccounted funds stashed abroad, while several other countries had been able to do so.
They also wanted the government to disclose the names of those account holders information regarding whom had been received.