India chapter of leading corruption watchdog, Transparency International has expressed shock about the Government’s proposal to grant amnesty to people who have stashed unaccounted money in tax havens abroad, against all norms of propriety.
“Implicit in the proposal is acceptance that business corporate houses and individual businessmen have maintained secret bank accounts in foreign countries both by evading taxes and concealing the source of money which could involve criminal and terrorist activities”, said P . S. Bawa, Chair of Transparency International India.
It may be recalled that earlier amnesty schemes were premised on the ground that business houses and individuals would learn a lesson, declare income, and pay taxes in future. This has apparently not happened and the hopes of government have been belied. The present move confirms the inappropriateness of such a scheme that condones not only illegal activities and concealment of sources of income, but also evasion of taxes, all of which are punishable under the common and taxation laws. It also encourages tax evaders to continue such practice in future.
Condoning such opaque activities that are against all norms of transparency projects the image of the India as a reluctant, soft, and pliable State. This would be a violation of a basic tenet of the Constitution that provides for rule of law and not executive orders that appear to be arbitrary and in violation of the fundamental right of equality before law.
“We urge the government not to get into the trap of increasing circulation of money in economy. There has been no dearth of funds as various schemes of the Government of India suggest”, said Mr. Bawa.
We also strongly advocate for release of names of law breakers whose illegal activities must be taken to a logical conclusion so that not only the source of income is unearthed, but they are suitably penalized under the tax laws and not pampered by paying a ‘levy’.
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Ms Anupama Jha, Executive Director
Transparency International India
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