With the revelation of the names of three businessmen having money stashed away abroad, at least a baby step in curbing flow of black money has been taken. This could be construed as the beginning of the attempt to bring it back as well. The ten-year UPA regime did nothing about black money stashed abroad. Opposition parties, Congress in particular, are shouting at the top of their voice about the revealing of just three names. For those who are waiting for the glamorous names to tumble out in the black money case, disappointment is looming large. Opposition parties must understand that the matter has not been closed with the disclosure of the three names. Former finance minister P Chidambaram has said that if the politicians from their party are involved in stashing away money abroad, it will embarrass the concerned individuals, not the party. All parties with such members, most of all the Congress, are also going to get embarrassed. Based on the number of tax-dodging individuals hailing from the concerned parties, the gravity of embarrassment varies. Selective announcement of names should not be made. If it is done, it will do no credit to the NDA government headed by Modi. NDA cannot miss the point that the people are watching the progress of the investigation of black money case. If black money is brought back to India, it would be a major achievement of todays central government.
Regulate real estate
In all probability, the lesser-than-expected black money figure revealed is not because tax evasion wasn't as high as expected. It could be because most of the illegal wealth perhaps was invested in India and other tax jurisdictions in areas that have comparatively lesser scrutiny on them. For example, the real estate sector in India is a good place to put your black money in and reap benefits without arousing the suspicion of the taxman. The sector did see a boom in the high-growth years. But nobody has questioned from where all that money that got poured in came from! The sector has been a sponge-cum-brush for black money, mopping up illegal wealth while whitewashing it. It is to the predicament of the tax evaders that the sector has slumped. But always remember, land is not something that can depreciate. The long-term view on such investment is that it always pays off in the end. The government needs to seriously regulate this area of the economy or the unscrupulous individuals are going to keep gaining from it unhindered. The real estate regulation Bill, in this respect, needs to be fast-tracked in Parliament. Otherwise, the government can keep running after black money but it will prove elusive to control.
For a cleaner India
Apropos of the recent column For a cleaner India, more than the need to involve the private sector is the need to recognise the rights of our sanitation workers and make sure that they are upheld. Start with their salaries and then get to their training, especially in modern waste management. The results will be that the Clean India campaign will be realised instead of photo-op sweeping by celebs.
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