Debunking the BJP claim that the government was not serious about black money, finance minister Pranab Mukerjee expects to get details of those who have stashed money in Swiss banks after April.
"Switzerland is likely to ratify the double taxation agreement with us shortly. We expect the get the information after April 1," Mukerjee told Lok Sabha while replying to a debate on Union Budget, while admitting that the progress made may not be very significant.
Mukerjee said that the first step was having a legal framework which has the government has achieved by signing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with 65 countries including Switzerland. Tax information agreement has been signed with another 10 countries and India is part of the world body on money laundering, he said, while admitting that signing the agreement was taking time resulting in political flak.
Taking a dig at BJP's task force report saying that black money of Indians ranged between US $ 400 billion to US $ 1,400 billion, the finance minister said the range was too big and announced that the government has constituted a group to quantify the black money.
Mukerjee expressed confidence that despite global crude prices increase India can achieve nine percent economic growth rate in the next financial year. "We believe that higher economic growth generates more employment and it has happened," he said.
In the same vein, he termed 9.3 % inflation as a matter of concern and said the government was taking steps to check inflation. But, pointed out that other nations across the globe were also facing problem of high inflation.
To reduce adverse impact of inflation on poor, the minister informed the house that the suggestions of a committee headed by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was being considered and the government was committed to bring in the Right to Food law. He said the subsidy given on oil and pulses last year did not reach many poor because of the poor network of the existing Public Distribution system. He also elaborated on steps taken to improve agriculture production.
After the minister's reply, the Lok Sabha passed the supplementary demands for 2010-11 and relevant appropriation bills, completing the first phase of the three-stage budgetary exercise. There will be no vote-on-account this year as Parliament proposes to complete the entire budgetary exercise, including the voting on demands for grants of various ministries, this month end itself.