As the Indian crypto market awaits the introduction of the Cryptocurrency and Official Digital Currency Bill 2021, in Parliament’s Winter Session, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday noted that the bill is awaiting clearance from the cabinet. Here’s a quick recap of everything the finance minister said around cryptocurrencies in Parliament:
Ques – What are government plans on shutting down crypto advertisements?
Nirmala Sitharaman – There is no solution currently to close crypto ads but certainly to caution people around the risk involved, government is taking steps via SEBI and RBI. While they could do more (in raising awareness) but we are now at a point that the bill will soon come.
The question of shutting crypto ads was raised by senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi. The MP later added “during the recent cricket world cup, over Rs 50 crore was spent by crypto exchanges in ads that ran without any disclaimer. These ads are misleading and can lead to heavy losses.”
Modi also highlighted that the Crypto Bill was listed during the Budget Session as well but couldn’t be introduced.
Nirmala Sitharaman – Last time the bill was proposed but subsequently because there were other dimensions, which in real-time, we thought were important to bring into the bill. That bill has been reworked and is now coming as a new bill. So, the intent was either we improve that bill or come with a bill that is far more recent. Once the Cabinet clears the bill, it will come into the house. About misleading ads and banning ads, Guidelines of Advertising Standards Council of India are being studied and regulations that they have are all being looked into so that, if necessary, we can take some kind of decision to say how we are going to handle this.
Ques – What government is planning to do about the risk of money laundering and scams with the growth in crypto transactions?
Nirmala Sitharaman — The risk that this can lead to some kind of illegal transfers to not so desirable activities are matters which are being well monitored in the regular course also by institutions, by enforcement authorities etc. These are matters which are discussed at various levels.
Ques – Would there be a separate legal framework for non-fungible tokens (NFTs)? Also, how many people have paid income tax on crypto income and how much tax has been collected?
Nirmala Sitharaman — I don’t have the ready information on how much tax has been collected on crypto or how much has been paid on it. On having a separate framework for NFTs, at this moment I may not be able to say that there will be a separate framework or not, but certainly, all these matters are being discussed.
Ques – What government is doing to make people aware of risks associated with crypto investments?
Nirmala Sitharaman – Until the bill comes, there have been statements issued through the government, SEBI, and RBI (on the risks involved), and also fair awareness-building attempt has been made to say that this is a risky area and people should be conscious of what they are doing. Awareness or ‘alert’ has been issued so that people are fairly cautioned. That much has been done.