1. Narendra Modi government working on electoral bonds, reveals Arun Jaitley, says Parliament, EC failed to check opaque political funding

Narendra Modi government working on electoral bonds, reveals Arun Jaitley, says Parliament, EC failed to check opaque political funding

Says Parliament, EC have failed to check opaque political funding in 70 years

By: | New Delhi | Published: July 23, 2017 6:47 AM

From left: Singapore Deputy PM Tharman Shanmugaratnam, FM Arun Jaitley and finance secretary Ashok Lavasa at the Delhi Economics Conclave-2017 on Saturday. (PTI)

The government is actively working on cleansing the opaque political funding system in the country through the electoral bond mechanism, finance minister Arun Jaitely said on Saturday. He, however, lamented that no party had come up with a suggestion to make such funding more transparent, even as they resorted to “empty rhetoric”. “For the past 70 years, the Indian democracy has been funded by invisible money, but elected representatives and relevant institutions, including Parliament and the Election Commission, have failed to check such opaque system of political funding,” he said. “I asked political parties, both orally in Parliament and in writing, to offer a better suggestion to me. Not one has come forward till date because people are quite satisfied in the existing system,” Jaitley said at the Delhi Economics Conclave, organised by the finance ministry. To improve transparency in political funding, Jaitley had in this year’s Budget speech announced that anonymous cash donations to political parties be restricted to just Rs 2,000 each, while proposing to introduce electoral bonds. As per the mechanism announced in the Budget, the proposed electoral bonds will resemble a promissory note and not an interest-paying debt instrument.

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Govt is working on electoral bonds: FM They will be sold by authorised banks and can be deposited in notified accounts of political parties within the duration of their validity, which is expected to be one-two months. The bonds will not carry the donor’s name and routing of the money through banks will ensure that no black money comes into the political system. However, in May, the Election Commission, in a submission to a parliamentary panel, said the introduction of electoral bonds is a retrograde step. Earlier this month, outgoing chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi said the amendments to Representation of the People Act have affected transparency in political funding, as reports on the contribution to political parties need not mention names and addresses, etc, of the donors contributing by way of electoral bonds. In March, during a debate in Parliament, Jaitley had invited suggestions from political parties to make electoral funding more clean and transparent. Jaitley had said: “I have an open invitation to all, please suggest to me a better system that will ensure clean money and transparency to the extent possible. I am yet to receive a single suggestion. I am only hearing adjectives like ‘it must be clean’, ‘it must be transparent’. Please give me ideal combination of the two. We are willing to consider it. I will wait for a specific suggestion.”

Note ban, GST bane for black money
FM Arun Jaitley said demonetisation and GST will make cash transactions a lot more difficult and lead to greater compliance, as well as expansion of tax base. New laws will check overseas black money, as well as those dealing with domestic black money and crack down on shell firms. The minister said the country had reconciled to a Indian normal—a very large number of tax non-compliance and very large amount of transaction which took place outside the system. “The first signs of greater digitisation, expansion of the tax base of direct and indirect taxes are already visible,” Jaitley said.

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