Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said in the Lok Sabha the government would bring a White Paper giving all the details on black money. "I will bring a White Paper. I will bring all information," he said, adding that the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, the National Institute of Financial Management and the National Council for Applied Economic Research have been mandated to make independent assessments of the quantum of black money in the country.
On the various figures mentioned by other leaders, Mukherjee said, "As the finance minister, I want authentic figures on black money."
In his 45-minute reply during an adjournment motion on black money in Parliament, he took on the opposition, particularly senior BJP leader L K Advani who moved the motion, for speculating on the amount of black money. He took a dig at the opposition and the media for highlighting the name of a certain Swiss Bankers' Association, saying despite all his "sincere efforts" in the past two years, including asking the government of Switzerland, he could not locate that body. An estimate of $1.5-1.9 trillion as black money stashed by Indian in Swiss banks had been attributed to the association.
Mukherjee reiterated information from other countries on Indian account holders could not be made public as it was acquired under treaty norms preventing such disclosures except in case of a prosecution.
Revealing information from other countries could hurt Indian businesses as some of them could be genuine investors abroad, he said, adding there was no plan to introduce an amnesty scheme for those disclosing black money.
Expressing surprise at Advani's demand to make the names public, Mukherjee said, "I am surprised as this demand has been made by a former home minister of the country. His interpretation is not correct. If we disclose names, the respective countries will not share more information with us as we are treaty-bound."
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Mukherjee said no member of Parliament figured in the list of account holders abroad that he had received. The Samajwadi Party walked out at the time of voting on the motion, dissatisfied with the minister's reply. The motion was subsequently defeated by voice vote.