Pranab Mukherjee: New India-Swiss pact not to recover black money

New Delhi, Aug 31 (Calcutta Tube) Finance MInister Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday clarified that the revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement India signed with Switzerland will not help the country in getting back the black money stashed away by Indians in secret Swiss bank accounts.

‘I would like to make it quite clear that as far as Swiss laws are concerned they don’t give any information of their banking transactions,’ Mukherjee said in the Lok Sabha.

The agreement, inked here Monday by Mukherjee and Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, allows exchange of information in accordance with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) standards which were negotiated in line with the parameters decided by the Swiss Federal Council, the Swiss Federal Department of Finance.

‘We cannot share this information to any other authority, including parliament. This information cannot even be shared with the Enforcement Directorate,’ the finance minister said.

He was replying to questions by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani and Communist Party of India (CPI’s) Gurudas Dasgupta whether the agreement would enable India to get the black money stashed in foreign banks.

The issue of Indians having secret Swiss bank accounts was a poll plank during last year’s general elections. Indians are alleged to have assets worth billions of dollars in banks in Switzerland.

Mukherjee said it was an agreement between two ‘sovereign’ countries and Switzerland ‘is in no way subordinate to us’.

He said the agreement will help India access the information on unaccounted money for taxation purposes only.

‘The new provision will be applicable only for prospective information and not for past information,’ Mukherjee added.

The Paris-based OECD sets the international tax standards. Switzerland has entered into revised tax pacts with many countries in accordance with OECD’s Model Tax Convention to facilitate bilateral exchange of information related to bank account details of tax evaders.

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