Unaccounted wealth stashed abroad by Indians is estimated to be in the range of $216.48 billion to $490 billion between 1980 and 2010. The observation has been made by the Standing Committee on Finance in a report tabled in 17th Lok Sabha Budget Session on June 24, 2019. The 73rd report of the committee tided “status of unaccounted income/wealth both inside and outside the country-a critical analysis (a preliminary report)” was tabled in both the Houses of Parliament. The preliminary report was earlier presented to the then Lok Sabha Speaker Ms. Sumitra Mahajan on March 28, 2019, a copy of which was also uploaded on the Lok Sabha website following the directions of the committee. The report on black money, however, does not put out a final figure regarding the amount of the illicit funds stashed abroad or within in the country.
The report is a conclusive document derived from the studies of three institutes-National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM). These three institutes were asked by the government in 2011 to give an estimate of the quantum of black money abroad and in the country. However, after going through their respective reports, the standing committee “found a wide variation” in their evaluation. All three independent studies gave varied results throwing the estimates to be anything between 7% and 120% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The report recommends to the government that (i) the Revenue Department of the Union Finance Ministry must make more robust attempts to find out black money in the country; (ii) the Department must also act on these three reports as well as all seven reports presented by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to investigate the black money; and (iii) the draft of the Direct Tax Code (DTC) must be prepared and presented in the Parliament at the earliest so that the direct tax legislations could also be streamlined like the GST.