Notice being served on those named in Panama Papers: Jaitley

Arun-JaitleyNew Delhi,(IANS) Notices are being served on those whose names figure in the Panama Papers leaks even as the newly-enacted black money act has resulted in “a certain level of compliance” and helped track black money parked overseas, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.

“I would like to say only one thing that for what ever cases are coming before the tax departments and others; notices are being issued under Income Tax Act and other relevant laws and actions are being taken,” he told the Lok Sabha during question hour.

His statement came to supplementaries asked by members, including Nana Patole and Kirit Somiaya (both Bharatiya Janata Party) and B. Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal) on the tax evasion issue.

Jaitley, however, said any individual case could not be discussed.

“I have stated this earlier also under the provisions of section 138 of Income Tax Act, an individual matter cannot be discussed in public. But in all cases whatever actions are necessary are being taken,” he said.

Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha informed members that the appointment of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in 2014 had helped in the purpose of tracking black money both in the country and outside.

“SIT is doing a commendable job,” he said, adding that recommendations of the SIT had helped investigating agencies and the government, especially with regard to black money stashed overseas.

“We have received a wide set of recommendations from the SIT. The recommendations have been included and efforts have been undertaken through the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, which was passed in this august House. This has resulted in a certain level of compliance.

“There has been a series of investigations and it is because of disclosures which we got through HSBC as well as through the International Committee of Journalists and most recent has been the Panama Papers, as finance minister has indicated, notices have already been sent out,” Sinha said.

He said as far as domestic black money is concerned, a number of suggestions have been provided there including the disclosure of PAN card for transactions of Rs.2 lakh, restrictions on real estate, and so on which have been implemented.

Mahtab wanted to know if in the wake of reports from SIT and other agencies, the government is proposing any changes in the law to keep an eye on tax evaders.

“….has SIT suggested what new law is to be enacted which will minimise the creation of black money in the country?” he asked.

Somaiya however was pulled up by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan when he took the name of a popular Maharashtra leader, who is now in jail.

“You know everything, then why are you taking someone’s name,” Mahajan told him tersely.

Patole said the contention that agricultural income is growing cannot be true because, “if such is the case, then farmers would not be committing suicide” and Sinha agreed that there are instances of tax evasion by moneyed people when they show their income as agricultural income.

The minister also said there has been an increase of tax payers’ network to 5.8 crore ever since the NDA government took over.

“We should not analyse this number based on the country’s total population. It is only among the 25 crore households and chiefly from seven crore eligible tax payers in the urban pockets,” Sinha said.

Medaram Jathara

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