Criminal proceedings against people in Panama Papers claiming NRI status for taxes: FM Jaitley

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday said in the Lok Sabha that criminal proceedings will be carried out in cases arising out of the Panama Papers disclosures, and the income tax department will go into claims about people claiming NRI status to avoid scrutiny.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressing the Parliament.
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressing the Parliament. Photo Courtesy: Lok Sabha TV

“I want properties from 1988 to be covered under the Benami Act. The money in foreign countries was reported from four sources, including HSBC, International Consortium of Journalists and Panama Papers. Lot of people claim NRI status, we will see if it is valid or not. It is now a disincentive and a risky business,” he said.

The Finance Minister was replying to a debate on the Supplementary Demand for Grants for 2017-18 and the relevant Appropriation Bill. He was replying to a query by an Opposition member about what the government was doing in the case of Panama Papers disclosures. After the Minister’s reply, the House approved the first batch of Supplementary Demand for Grants for 2017-18, for an additional expenditure of INR11,166 crore, and three appropriations.

On the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which has completed one month of implementation, Jaitley said the incidence of tax will be lower than the previous indirect tax regime once the input tax credit is availed and the prices will come down. “The methodology of taxation has changed, in medium and long term it will bring prices down because of input chain that is created. Currently cascading effect of taxation is there,” he said. The Finance Minister said that the GST Council will meet on August 5 to finalise the details of the anti-profiteering mechanism.

“The Council will meet once a month. We did rate revisions when required. More the revenues, the more the states will get. States know this. More revenue for states means, more money for infrastructure, education, health, etc.,” he added. Jaitley also dismissed the contention by some members that GST would lead to payment of more tax by consumers.