Group formed to look into amnesty scheme on black money:Pranab

New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjeetoday said a group has been formed to look into thepossibility of an amnesty scheme to encourage people to bringback black money stashed abroad.

"I have appointed a group to look into it (of amnestyscheme) and to make suggestions and recommendations to me,"the Finance Minister said when asked if the government wasconsidering granting amnesty to those who have stashed awayblack money overseas.

Mukherjee, however, did not elaborate on the nature ofthe group and its members.

His remarks come ahead of the budget for which theproposals are being finalised by the Finance Ministryofficials. The budget for 2011-12 will be unveiled byMukherjee on February 28.

The Minister, while addressing a press conference here,said that the issue of granting amnesty to convert black moneyinto white was a tricky one like "a double-edged sword".

"You know there is always a double side to these amnestyschemes. Sometimes if somebody is allowed, you will be highlycriticised because this will be at the cost of the honest taxpayers. Sometimes it helps to bring some money," he said.

Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman Sudhir Chandralater clarified that there was no step to grant amnestyimmediately. "Right now there is nothing," he said, adding agroup has been set up to bring black money back to India.

The government in the past had come out with amnestyschemes to encourage people to disclose unaccounted money.

Although these schemes have generated tax income for thegovernment, they were criticised for being unfair to honesttaxpayers.

Pointing out "no reliable estimate of black money bothinside and outside the country" is available, Mukherjee said"a multi-disciplinary (will) estimate the quantum of illicitfund generated by Indian citizens".

The Finance Minister said three organisations -- NationalInstitute of Public Finance Policy, National Institute ofFinancial Management and NCAER will help in the process bygiving recommendations to the group to estimate the amount ofblack money.

"It will take some time ... we will try to have it asexpeditiously as possible," Mukherjee said.

Citing a study by the Global Financial Integrity, hesaid the present outflow of illicit money is estimated at USD462 billion, while an interim recommendation of BJP task force2009 said it is between USD 500 billion and YSD 1400 billion.

"All these estimates are based on unverifiableassumptions and approximations," Mukherjee said.

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