New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the estimate of black money stashed abroad by Indians and Indian entities was estimated at between $462 billion and $1.4 trillion and every step within means was being taken to bring it back.
He also made it clear that unless there are legal provisions in other countries, the two pacts India has been entering with them – double tax avoidance treaties and information exchange agreements – cannot help in revealing the names of perpetrators.
The finance minister made the observations during a press conference to clarify the government’s stand on black money.
He also dismissed opposition criticism that the government was not disclosing information because such disclosure could result in the government’s fall.
"Let us understand the issue. No information can be made available unless there is a legal framework. No sovereign country is going to share information unless there is a legal framework," he told a press conference 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.
However, he said Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and Exchange of Taxation Information Agreement are two instrumentalities under which information can obtained and the government has already amended pacts with 23 countries to get information from banks.
"But the problem is information which we have obtained has come under some conditions of secrecy. Today, if we disclose tomorrow other countries will not give me the information raising an accusing finger that you do not meet international commitments," he said.
However, Mukherjee added ‘there is a way. As and when the Income Tax Authorities will be in a position to prosecute cases against tax evaders you will come to know’.
"Even I have no intention or authority of knowing the names (of those who have stashed black money abroad). The Income Tax officers have statutory powers under which they perform their duties and they are outside the purview of the administrative control of the ministry," Mukherjee said.(Agencies)