seeks public views online on blackmoney issue
government today created an email id for public to send their
ideas and inputs to tackle issues arising out of blackmoney.
The email -- email@example.com -- has been created on the server
of the National
Global bodies are putting "enormous pressure" on tax havens like
Switzerland and Luxembourg, including threat of sanctions, to
change opaque laws and share information that will help countries
like India trace huge sums of black money stashed abroad, said a
senior OECD official.
"There is a sea change. Political tolerance towards tax havens is
coming to zero level. G20 and OECD are putting enormous pressure
on them to change," said Jeffrey Owens, director of the OECD
Centre for Tax Policy and Administration.
He said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) was working closely with G20, the group of 20 most powerful
nations, to force tax havens to be transparent and cooperate with
other countries to help curb tax evasion and money laundering.
"You have to be transparent. You have to give access to
information and you have to have legal instruments in place to
exchange the information. We have to do this in a way that we
achieve a level playing field," Owens told IANS in an interview
The issue of black money and tax havens have attracted a lot of
public and media attention in India.
"It is a big issue in India. At the same time, it is a global
issue. People are uniting against it." Owens said.
He said the OECD had adopted a set of criteria for blacklisting
tax havens if they refuse to cooperate.
"We are making sure that all countries, including OECD member
countries like Switzerland, Luxembourg and Austria, implement the
decisions. Otherwise they will face sanctions," said Owens.
The Paris-based OECD, a grouping of 34 countries, accounts for
nearly 80 percent of world trade. Although India is not a member,
it has close relations with OECD and has joined its multilateral
platform initiative to check tax evasion and money laundering.
India has also urged countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg to
share banking information of Indian citizens and people of Indian
origin to help trace billions of dollars of black money.
According to unofficial estimates, the quantum of Indian black
money ranges from $450 billion to $1,400 billion.
Owens said that at the G20 Cannes summit in November 2011, OECD
would recommend tough action against tax havens.
He hoped that these countries would transform themselves and cease
to be a shelter for people looking to evade taxes, launder money
and engage in illicit economic activities.
"They are going to cease to be tax havens. Sure, they will exist
but they can't operate the way they have been in the past. Some
are sophisticated countries and might transform themselves as
off-shore financial centres."
These countries or territories have laws to attract foreign
capital and offer individuals and businesses little or no tax
Owens said a series of tax information exchange agreements signed
between countries would enable them to get information on tax
"In the last two years, over 600 tax information exchange
agreements have been signed. India has signed 14 agreements. This
will enhance cooperation among countries," he said.
The OECD official said tax evasion and money laundering had
resulted in the loss of over $100 billion to government exchequers
worldwide, and were among the major reasons behind the global
"Whether it's tax evasion, money laundering, bribery, bad
governance, all these thrive in a climate of secrecy, weak
regulation and weak cooperation. We must fight each of these.
"If you make progress in counter-acting tax evasion, you also make
progress in counter-acting money laundering," he added.
Keshri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)