For 70 years, India has been funded by invisible money: Arun Jaitleyindia Updated: Jul 22, 2017 22:23 IST
Finance minister Arun Jaitley shares a light moment with deputy PM of Singapore Tharman Shanmugaratnam (L) on Saturday. (PTI Photo)
Underlining the need to bring in more transparency and accountability in political funding, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said Indian democracy has been funded by “invisible money” for the last 70 years and different institutions have failed to check it.
He said the government is “actively working” on the electoral bond mechanism — which he announced in the last Budget — but no party has come forward with suggestions on how to make political funding cleaner.
“For 70 years, India’s democracy has been funded by invisible money and elected representatives, governments, political parties, Parliaments, and I must say that even the Election Commission has failed to check it,” Jaitley said at the Delhi Economics Conclave 2017. He said the solution does not lie in finding a problem with every solution but to come up with alternate suggestions.
“I asked political parties, both orally in Parliament and in writing, to offer a better suggestion to me... not one has come forward to date because people are quite satisfied in the existing system,” he claimed. In the Union Budget this year, Jaitley announced the introduction of electoral bonds to boost transparency in political funding. He also capped anonymous cash donations to political parties at ?2,000.
Jaitley said the demonetisation exercise and the Goods and Services Tax will lead to greater transparency while boosting tax collections.“The impact... is going to make generation of cash a lot more difficult,” Jaitley said, adding that several steps have been taken to address the black money menace. The government has started identifying shell companies, with more than 1.6 lakh de-registered and another two lakh under scrutiny.
He said that shell companies have been used for money laundering and tax-evasion. Most of these firms followed a benami route through multi-layering of companies and introducing cash in the books and bringing it back as income.
Jaitley said tax evasion was the “Indian normal.” “There was almost a helplessness in trying to deal with the situation. Every year through the Finance Bill, we would announce some changes which at best had a marginal impact. I think the lasting impact of those marginal changes was not very significant,” the minister said.
First Published: Jul 22, 2017 22:22 IST