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House panel would have estimated quantum of black money had there been more time: Veerappa Moily

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Hyderabad, Jun 25: The Standing Committee on Finance would have estimated the quantum of black money if it had more time for deliberations as it was not a difficult task, panel head M Veerappa Moily indicated on Tuesday. The panel's report, titled 'Status of Unaccounted Income/Wealth Both Inside and Outside the Country - A Critical Analysis', was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Veerappa Moily

There are no reliable estimates of black money generation or accumulation, neither is there an accurate well-accepted methodology for making such estimation, the report said. "All estimates depend upon the underlying assumptions made and the sophistication of adjustments incorporated," the panel said, adding that among the estimates made so far, there is no uniformity or consensus about the best methodology or approach to be used for this purpose. Speaking to PTI, Moily, however, said the House panel's report is "preliminary".

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"In view of the paucity of time, we could not call all the witnesses and examine it in detail," he said. "It's for the next finance committee (of the current Lok Sabha) to examine it; they need to thoroughly go into the matter," he added. The former Union minister said it's not difficult to arrive at an estimation on the quantum of black money within and outside India. "We would have worked on that but because of the paucity of time, we could not do that," he said.

According to three separate studies conducted by premier institutes -- National Institute of Public Police and Finance (NIPFP), National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), unaccounted wealth held by Indians outside the country was estimated in the range of USD 216.48 billion to USD 490 billion over various periods between 1980 and 2010.

In March 2011, NIPFP, NCAER and NIFM were asked by the finance ministry to conduct studies to assess and survey unaccounted income and wealth both inside and outside the country. Moily noted that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money had also submitted seven reports.

After receiving all these reports, the government should have prepared an action programme to unearth and bring to book unaccounted wealth, which they have not done, he said. He added that the central government did not act upon these reports despite giving "slogans in 2014 (before the Lok Sabha election) that it will take steps to unearth black money".

"The government cannot sleep over the reports. They will have to make an objective appraisal and take steps on how best we can unearth the black money, both stashed in India and abroad," the former Karnataka chief minister said. Asked about the steps to curb black money, Moily said when he was the law minister in UPA II, the government had drafted a bill on direct tax code to reform the direct taxation system but the NDA government did not pursue it.

"Direct tax code will have to be brought about for a thorough reformation of the direct taxation system. That's what we (standing committee on finance) also suggested in the preliminary report," he said. Experts need to work on the bill, he said.


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