As the country struggles to cope with the overnight declaration of old Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 notes as invalid in an attempt by the government to fight the circulation of black money, the Union Ministry of Finance on Friday stated that there are no official estimates on the amount of black money within the country or stashed abroad.
A release from the ministry said that the government had commissioned a study on black money through National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), reports from which have been received. These reports are ‚Äėunder consideration‚Äô of the government, it said.
The finance ministry had earlier refused to share these reports. In response to an RTI query, the Ministry said that these reports of NIPFP, NCAER and NIFM ‚Äď which were received by the government on December 30, 2013, July 18, 2014 and August 21, 2014 respectively ‚Äď were ‚Äėunder examination‚Äô by the government.
"Information is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (c) of the RTI Act, 2005, as the study reports received from the three institutes are under examination of the government and the same along with the government's response on these reports are yet to be taken to the Parliament through the Standing Committee on Finance," the Ministry had then said, according to PTI.
In its release on Friday, the government however stated that appropriate action against tax evasion, including tracing income stashed in foreign countries, is an ‚Äėon-going process‚Äô.
‚ÄúThe Government has taken several steps to effectively tackle the issue of black money, particularly black money stashed away abroad. Such measures include policy-level initiatives, more effective enforcement action on the ground, putting in place robust legislative and administrative frameworks, systems and processes with due focus on capacity building and integration of information and its mining through increasing use of information technology,‚ÄĚ the release said.
It is unclear as to why the reports, last of which were submitted more than 2 years ago, have still not been made public.
According to ET, ‚ÄúThe different estimates on quantum of black money range between USD 500 billion to USD 1,400 billion. A study by Global Financial Integrity estimated the illicit money outflow at USD 462 billion.‚ÄĚ