The Narendra Modi government is not ready to “touch the structure of tax havens, money laundering and the generation of black money”, the CPI-M said.
“If the Modi government is serious about cracking down on black money, tax evasion and money laundering, then it should impose a blanket prohibition on Indians acquiring shell companies and operating secret accounts in tax havens,” an editorial in the CPI-M journal “People’s Democracy” said.
“This is apart from confiscating the illegal money and assets of those in the Panama list,” it added.
“But the BJP government will not dare to do so as the whole system of international finance capital is intertwined with the elaborate structure of tax havens and shell companies.”
It added: “The action proposed to be taken on the Panama papers further confirm that the Modi government will only scratch the surface and is unwilling to touch the structure of tax havens, money laundering and the generation of black money.”
The editorial follows the publication of “Panama Papers”, which it said gave a glimpse into the extensive network of shell companies and secret entities in tax havens globally which service the wealthy and powerful.
The Indian Express has published a series of reports revealing the 500 Indians involved in this murky business, it said. They include big businessmen, politicians, film stars, corporate executives and lawyers.
“The Modi government, which made the most noise about unearthing and bringing back black money from abroad, is being shown up as being toothless in enforcing its pledge,” the editorial said.
It said that two years after the Modi government took office, very little had been accomplished to bring black money back into the country.
“The Modi government has only taken a technical view of those who have kept money illegally in secret accounts and operated shell companies. The earlier exposures have only led to some tax notices to those who have not declared their money or assets abroad.
It said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan harp on the fact that many of the acquisitions and accounts abroad may be legitimate.
“This is evading the real issue. Why does the government have to legitimise shell company acquisitions and maintenance of secret accounts in tax havens?
“Earlier, the government had failed to get information from Mossack Fonseca on queries about certain accounts and business dealings. It did not even take the step of blacklisting Panama as an uncooperative tax territory, a step which the French government has taken.”