New Delhi :On the back foot over surging Indian deposits in Swiss banks, the government said not all this money was black and that defaulters would be punished once information starts flowing from Switzerland, starting January 2019, under the new bilateral data sharing arrangements.
Edit: Swiss bank balance
Finance Minister Piyush Goyal and Union Minister Arun Jaitley rose in defence of the government after the Congress-led Opposition targeted the BJP regime for allegedly failing to retrieve black money and following policies that led to a massive rise in Indian deposits in banks of the Alpine nation.
Goyal wondered how all this money could be “assumed to be black” after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at PM Narendra Modi, who had made graft and black money retrieval major election issues.
“2014, he said: I will bring back all the ‘black’ money in Swiss banks and put 15 lakhs in each Indian bank A/C. 2016, he said: Demonetisation will cure India of ‘black’ money. 2018, he says: 50% jump in Swiss bank deposits by Indians is ‘white’ money. No ‘black’ in Swiss banks!” Gandhi tweeted, triggering a wave of Opposition reactions.
Even KC Tyagi of JD-U, BJP’s ally in Bihar, called the trends “worrisome”, saying everyone had hoped black money would be curbed post demonetisation. CPM’s Sita-ram Yechury and CPI’s D Raja also attacked the BJP for “waiving off corporate loans and allowing fraudsters to flee with bank monies”.
The government put up a strong face with Goyal promising action against those guilty of holding black money. Jaitley wrote a blog to cement the point that “to assume all deposits are per se tax-evaded money or that Switzerland in the matter of illegal deposits is what it was decades ago is to start on a shaky presumption”.
He said the flow of information from Switzerland will start from January 2019. “Any illegal depositor knows it is a matter of months before his name becomes public and he will be subjected to the harsh penal provisions of the black money law,” Jaitley insisted.
In a veiled reference to Rahul Gandhi, Jaitley said those who participate in public discourse must understand these basic facts before expressing an opinion which may be ill-informed.