New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday announced that the government would bring a White Paper on black money stashed abroad.
“India will get information about bank accounts of its citizens in Switzerland with effect from April, 2011... The government will bring White Paper on black money stashed in tax havens,” he said replying to an adjournment motion on black money in Lok Sabha moved by senior BJP leader LK Advani which was later defeated by voice vote.
The Finance Minister said that government has received 36,000 `pieces` of information with regard to Indian account holders in banks abroad.
Mukherjee, however, rejected Opposition demand for making public the information received.
“The government can’t disclose those informations. If I publish it, same country will say you violated the agreement and they will not share information in future...We will dry up our source of information ", he argued adding “If we publish the names the account holders will withdraw the money,” he added.
"Should I publicise or go and seize it? How is intelligence collected? There is an element of surprise," he said.
The Finance Minister made it clear that no Member of Parliament figures in the list of account holders abroad that he had received.
Earlier, senior BJP leader LK Advani, who moved the adjournment motion on black money issue in the Lok Sabha demanded that the government should reveal the names of black money holders and act against the guilty.
Reports said France had disclosed names of around 782 Indian nationals who have illegal accounts.
According to reports of Swiss Bankers Association India, black money worth 19,000 billion of US dollar is stashed in tax heavens but the Finance Minister said that the Indian authorities are yet to trace the organisation and establish its authenticity.
Also the figure contradicts with that of the BJP which pegs the black money stashed abroad at Rs 25 lakh crore.
“Amount stashed in foreign banks is not known. We need to know the authentic figure”, the Finance Minister said questioning the authenticity of the black money figures.
The Finance Minister said that three economic think-tanks -- NIPFP, NIFM and NCAER -- have been mandated to make independent and dependable assessments of the quantum of black money in the country.
The Finance Minister dismissed the Opposition charge of "inaction" on the issue.
“The govt is doing its best to bring back black money stashed abroad,” he said.
The Finance Minister called upon the opposition parties to join with the government in its “fight” against black money.
He said there is no conflict of interest between the objective of the Opposition and the government. "Why can`t we work together? I will not protect any black money holder, my party will not protect any black money holder," he said.
Mukherjee also took potshots at Advani`s Jan Chetna Yatra. “I welcome Advani’s yatra if it was against black money,” he said.
He slammed the Opposition for pressing for Adjournment Motion on the issue and disrupting Parliament for the same.