New Delhi, Aug 16:
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about steps taken to unearth black money in his Independence Day speech, the CII hailed the Centre’s efforts to fight the menace while advocating ‘stringent punishments’ for offenders.
“Black money is a serious problem, which needs strict handling. The black money that is either outside the country and or inside needs to be brought into the economic mainstream for obvious reasons,” Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) director general Chandrajit Banerjee said in a statement here on Sunday.
“In this context the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015′, provides for strict prosecution mechanism and also provides a one-time voluntary compliance opportunity for immunity from prosecution if appropriate taxes and penalty have been paid. This is a step in the right direction which will help in curbing black money,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said a host of steps have been taken by his government to tackle black money — from the appointment of a special probe team to enacting a stringent law to prevent such practices and punish its perpetrators.
He said that when he took over last year, the Central Bureau of Investigation was probing some 800 cases of black money. Now 1,800 cases were being examined.
The CII said the government has taken several steps including agreements with countries like the US for real time sharing of information on Indian nationals holding assets abroad.
Many countries across the world have adopted measures to prevent illicit financial outflows and promote disclosure of unreported income, stringent penalties are applicable under money laundering legislations globally, the industry chamber added.
Addressing the nation on India’s 69th Independence Day, Modi said: “Even at the G20 meeting, I raised the issue and we have been promised cooperation.”
Earlier this month, the government said the information provided during the one-time compliance window on black money, expiring next month-end, can be revealed in the public interest.
“By and large, the information would be kept confidential. Under the new law (black money), it is not the case that we will put up a public notice that so and so has availed the benefit and paid tax,” Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das said at a “Talkathon” here with Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairperson Anita Kapur.
“However, the department can declare it in public interest,” he said.
The department had earlier released a list of FAQs, which also said disclosures made under the said Act would have “immunity from prosecution under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Income Tax Act, Wealth Tax Act, Companies Act and Customs Act”.
It, however, does not provide immunity from prosecution under any other statute.
The offence of wilful attempt to evade tax will also not be an offence under the PMLA, the FAQs added.
The one-time 90-day compliance window granted to foreign asset holders to make a declaration, however, does not guarantee immunity for wealth generated from corruption, it said.
The black money act for the first time allows levy of tax in India on assets kept abroad. Unlawful, undisclosed income abroad is taxed at a rate of 30 percent with an additional 30 percent penalty.
Failure to meet the declaration compliance window will attract an additional penalty of 90 percent for a total tax liability of 120 percent on the quantum of black money abroad.
The ministry has notified September 30 as the expiry date of the compliance window, while allowing those with undisclosed income and assets abroad time till December 31 to pay the levies.
An unofficial estimate of Indians’ black money puts the sum somewhere between $466 billion and $1.4 trillion. (IANS)