“Na khaunga, na khane dunga”, was PM Narendra Modi’s campaign rhetoric in 2014 election campaign.
4 years later and after seeing a decline for successive three years, money parked by the Indians in Swiss Banks rose to 1.02 billion (Rs 7000 crore) Swiss Franc in 2017 as per the data released by Zürich based Swiss National Bank. This despite the government’s claim to go tough on black money stashed abroad.
The 50 percent surge comes as a surprise post the 2016 demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes aimed to attack the unaccounted black money. The latest figures have arrived months after a framework has been put in place for automatic exchange of information between Switzerland and India to check the menace of black money. Switzerland has already started sharing client details on evidence of wrongdoing provided by India.
Switzerland has been making the data public since 1987. Since then, India saw its biggest plunge in 2016 when the Indian money stashed in Swiss banks fell by 45 percent to 676 billion Swiss Franc amounting to about Rs 4500 crore.
The recent increase has been attributed to increase in foreign remittances under RBI’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme. This is the third time that India has seen a rise in money in Swiss banks – 12 percent in 2011, 43 percent in 2013 and now 50.2 percent in 2017.
Pakistan though has more black money stashed in Switzerland than India, the net Pakistani money in Swiss banks saw a decline from 1.38 billion Swiss francs to 1.1 billion Swiss Franc as per the SNB.
For the last three years, the Narendra Modi government has made big claims on going tough on black money hoarders. It took several measures including Enactment of Black Money ( Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 that provided a one-time compliance window to taxpayers to reveal their unaccounted money and assets through Income Declaration Scheme in 2016. This, post demonetisation, was followed by Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. Swiss Parliament too has tightened the country’s money laundering rules laying a cap of $104000 on cash transactions and simultaneously keeping a close watch on foreign politicians and high –profile officials.
All government efforts seems futile now. The finance ministry has made new promises of strong actions against the illicit deposits abroad. But such promises have been made earlier too. With the country staring at general elections next year, all that a common citizen can hope for is that the Rs.15 lakh in each bank account promised by PM Modi will also see a 50.2 percent increase!