Planning to buy a house? Go on a world tour? Or both, with the Rs 15-lakh worth of black money that was to guzzle into your bank account? You might be better off settling for a picture postcards of them. All that the NDA government has managed to mop up from its hot pursuit of 'black money' is Rs 3,770 crore, which, assuming every child and adult in India acquires their own bank account, works out to Rs 37--ok 38--in your savings stash.
Even as you come to terms with the bounty, the government said in a statement, that it has received 638 declarations of money stashed in foreign account.
During the poll campaign for the Loksabha elections, Narendra Modi had said that were all the black money from abroad to be brought back every one would be assured of a copious "Rs 15-20 lakh."
To be sure however, earlier this year and around the first-year anniversary of the NDA, PM Modi's finance minister, Arun Jaitley had had begun the backtrack saying that PM Modi's campaign statement was "merely illustrative."
When quizzed in Parliament by the Samajwadi Party's Kiranmay Jaitley responded, “There are various versions of the quantum of monies. And it is an illustrative statement which indicates that if any of those versions are accepted which indicate a higher amount of black money lying outside India, then pro rata that is the benefit accrues to the citizens of India. It is a statement which has been made by several people in that context and it must be taken entirely in that context.”
Before Jaitely, Modi's right-hand political strategist, Amit Shah--on the campaign trail for the Delhi Assembly elections this February--said, "Modiji's statement was an idiomatic expression (jumla) that was given during the Lok Sabha polls. Everybody knows that this black money doesn't go to accounts of people.”
While it is undeniable that several wealthy tax evaders do park substantial amounts in overseas banks or evasive investments to be beyond the remit of the law, international treaties between countries make it fairly difficult to zero on such money.
Global Financial Integrity India, an international NGO, estimates an outflow of $44 billion from India every year during 2003-12 and while there is no universally accepted figure for Indian money in overseas accounts, the government netted Rs 7,800 crore in 1997, under a voluntary disclosure scheme, at a time the economy was much smaller.
The government had announced a scheme called The Black money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax provides for tax and penalty of 120 per cent and jail term of up to 10 years for holding undisclosed foreign assets. It had also provided a 90-day compliance window--that ended on Wednesday-- to escape the harsh punishment by declaring the assets and paying 60 per cent tax and penalty.
The rules stipulated that no action will be taken against those coming clean, unless the money was related to drugs, corruption or terrorism.
As part of an international investigation, The Indian Express had obtained a list of Indian account holders with HSBC Bank's Swiss operations. There were around 1100 accounts--including both accounted and unaccounted money--and was part of the list that was shared with Indian authorities. At that time, investigators told the newspaper that the tax due on those accounts worked to an underwhelming Rs 3000-odd crore.
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