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Congress booklet counters Ramdev's black money claims

Saturday June 11, 2011 06:47:53 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: A booklet brought out by the Congress to defuse opposition parties' aggressive campaign and highlight various anti-corruption steps of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has addressed questions raised by yoga guru Baba Ramdev on black money.

The booklet 'The Congress view on present situation-1', released Friday, has a photograph of party chief Sonia Gandhi on the cover.

The party intends to distribute the booklet during its proposed rallies in state capitals this month.

The booklet has contested several issues raised by Ramdev, including the figure of Rs.400 lakh crore he has quoted as the amount of black money stashed abroad.

"Many of the demands raised by different persons are ill-informed and baseless. For example, to suggest that Rs.400 lakh crore is stashed abroad is a preposterous claim," said the booklet.

The booklet did not name Ramdev but sought to demolish issues raised by him. Ramdev, who has been on a fast since June 4 when his rally at Delhi's Ramlila Ground was dispersed by police in a midnight crackdown, had Thursday consumed lemonade and honey at the request of doctors.

"To suggest that the Indian rupee can equal $50 betrays one's colossal ignorance. To demand that currency notes of denomination of Rs.1,000 and Rs.500 should be demonetised is not only impractical but fraught with grave consequences," the booklet said.

The booklet also termed as absurd the figures relating to black money put forth by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"Many such absurd claims have been made. For example, the BJP has claimed that black money was between Rs.1,125,000-2,250,000 crore ($250-500 billion). Suddenly the amount jumps from about Rs.22 lakh crore to Rs.400 lakh crore," the booklet said.

Outlining the steps taken by the government to curb corruption and black money, the booklet said that a "strong and sound" Lokpal bill would be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament.

"It (the government) has entrusted probe into grave allegations of corruption that may involve people in high places to the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation). It has welcomed the Supreme Court's oversight of investigations. The government has ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption. It has introduced a bill to punish bribery of foreign public officials," the booklet said.

On the issue of black money, it said that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act was passed during the previous UPA government's tenure and had provisions for confiscation of property.

It said that UPA-II had so far unearthed Rs.18,750 crore in income tax searches, Rs.12,000 crore in income tax surveys, Rs.33,784 crore in mispricing of goods and services, and Rs.22,697 crore of taxes had been collected due to special attention on cross-border transactions and business deals.

"Three national-level institutions have been tasked to estimate the extent of black money…Action has been taken against high profile tax evaders such as Pune-based stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan, former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and former Satyam chief B. Ramalinga Raju."

The booklet said that the government entered into double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAA) with 27 countries (including Switzerland) and tax information exchange agreements with 10 countries. An agreement had been reached with Mauritius to review the DTAA.




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