The Finance Ministry has refused to share copy of three reports on the quantum of black money held by Indians inside the country and abroad, saying its disclosure would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament. The then UPA government had in 2011 commissioned these studies by Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) as well as the National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) in Faridabad. Replying to an RTI query, it said the study reports of the NIPFP, NCAER and NIFM were received by the government on December 30, 2013, July 18, 2014, and August 21, 2014, respectively.
The ministry said these reports were submitted to the Standing Committee on Finance on July 21 last year and the committee is now seized of the matter. “Accordingly, the disclosure of information would cause a breach of privilege of the Parliament. Therefore, the information sought is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (c) of the RTI Act,” it said in reply to the RTI application filed by this PTI correspondent.
The section bars information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament. There is, at present, no official assessment on the quantum of black money in India and abroad. According to a study by US-based think-tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI), an estimated USD 770 billion in black money entered India during 2005-2014. Nearly USD 165 billion in illicit money exited the country during the same period, the latest report by the global financial watchdog said.
“The issue of black money has attracted a lot of public and media attention in the recent past. So far, there are no reliable estimates of black money generated and held within and outside the country,” the Finance Ministry had said while ordering the studies in 2011. These estimates were based on various unverifiable assumptions and approximations, it had said.
“Government has been seized of the matter and has, therefore, commissioned these institutions to get an estimation and sense of the quantum of illicit fund generated and held within and outside the country,” the ministry had said. The Terms of Reference (ToR) for the studies included assessment or survey of unaccounted income and wealth and profiling the nature of activities engendering money laundering both within and outside the country. The studies were to identify, among other issues, important sectors of the economy in which unaccounted money was generated and examine the causes and conditions that resulted in the generation.