NEW DELHI, Jan 25 � Under attack from Opposition and the Supreme Court, Government today announced a five-pronged strategy that includes creating an appropriate legislative framework for repatriating black money stashed abroad but ruled out disclosure of the names of such account holders, reports PTI.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee parried questions on whether the government would ban Participatory Notes, an instrument widely suspected of being used for tax evasion, and announce a general amnesty scheme for evaders.
He said he cannot disclose whether a decision would be taken on banning Participatory Notes. On the other issue a group has been constituted to look into it, he added.
Addressing a press conference on the directions of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said there was no legal framework available right now with the government to reveal details about black money accounts and treaties are being negotiated with 65 countries for getting information about tax evaders.
Mukherjee maintained that there were no clear estimates about black money and the government has constituted a multi-disciplinary committee to get studies conducted to estimate the quantum of illicit funds generated by Indian citizens.
He said different estimates like the one by BJP Task Force which put the amount between USD 500 billion and USD 1400 billion and an international estimate of USD 462 billion are based on �unverifiable assumptions and approximations�.
Mukherjee, however, dismissed opposition criticism that the government was not disclosing information fearing that such disclosure could result in the government�s fall and asserted the government would have worked on the basis of �facts�.
�The government has nothing to hide. No question of hiding. Let us understand the issue. No information can be made available unless there is a legal framework.
�No sovereign government is going to share information unless there is a legal framework,� he said explaining the reasons why the government was not in a position to part with information it has obtained some foreign entities on black money stashed away abroad.
The issue came up for an impromptu discussion in the Cabinet last Thursday in the wake of Supreme Court upbrading the government on why details of black money were not being disclosed. The Prime Minister then directed Mukherjee address the media on the government�s strategy and the compulsions it faced under treaties with sovereign governments.
Elaborating on the five-pronged strategy, Mukherjee said India has completed negotiations on 10 new tax information exchange agreements with Bahamas, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Jersey, Monaco, St Kitts and Nevis, Argentina and Marshall Islands out of 22 identified countries and jurisdictions.