FM rules out info on names of black money holders

New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) Under attack from Opposition andthe Supreme Court, Government today announced a five-prongedstrategy that includes creating an appropriate legislativeframework for repatriating black money stashed abroad butruled out disclosure of the names of such account holders.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee parried questions onwhether the government would ban Participatory Notes, aninstrument widely suspected of being used for tax evasion, andannounce a general amnesty scheme for evaders.

He said he cannot disclose whether a decision would betaken on banning Participatory Notes. On the other issue agroup has been constituted to look into it, he added.

Addressing a press conference on the directions of PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh, he said there was no legal frameworkavailable right now with the government to reveal detailsabout black money accounts and treaties are being negotiatedwith 65 countries for getting information about tax evaders.

Mukherjee maintained that there were no clear estimatesabout black money and the government has constituted amulti-disciplinary committee to get studies conducted toestimate the quantum of illicit funds generated by Indiancitizens.

He said different estimates like the one by BJP TaskForce which put the amount between USD 500 billion and USD1400 billion and an international estimate of USD 462 billionare based on "unverifiable assumptions and approximations".

Mukherjee, however, dismissed opposition criticism thatthe government was not disclosing information fearing thatsuch disclosure could result in the government''s fall andasserted the government would have work on the basis of"facts".

"The government has nothing to hide. No question ofhiding. Let us understand the issue. No information can bemade available unless there is a legal framework.

"No sovereign government is going to share informationunless there is a legal framework," he said explaining thereasons why the government was not in a position to part withinformation it has obtained some foreign entities on blackmoney stashed away abroad.

The issue came up for an impromptu discussion in theCabinet last Thursday in the wake of Supreme Court upbradingthe government on why details of black money were not beingdisclosed. The Prime Minister then directed Mukherjee addressthe media on the government''s strategy and the compulsions itfaced under treaties with sovereign governments. (MORE) PTISPG AKK

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