With the difference in stance between opposition and experts on the government's plan to make tax evasion a criminal offence, the finance ministry has decided to launch a dedicated portal inviting suggestions on the issue from the public and all other stakeholders through email.
A formal announcement about the email ID, email@example.com, would be made after the National Informatics Centre (NIC) prepares the web page to handle a public opinion survey. The NIC is tasked with the responsibility of implementation of information and communication technology solutions for all government initiatives.
In its first meeting, a high-level committee on black money headed by Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman in its first meeting last week suggested that making tax evasion a criminal offence be considered. However, in the face of mounting opposition to the proposal, which the CBDT is considering, the finance ministry has decided to seek a wider debate by inviting inputs from all stakeholders.
The finance ministry website would provide an email link to the website and all opinions voiced on the portal would be analysed to arrive at an informed opinion on the subject, according to a senior finance ministry official.
BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha was the first to register his protest on the proposal. He said the government was trying to overdo things as it was constantly under pressure.
Sinha told the Times of India, that any law that the government was drafting had to be carefully thought through and a clear distinction be made between minor evasion and major evasion of ill-gotten wealth.
The high-level committee comprises chiefs of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, Financial Intelligence Unit as also senior officials from ministries of finance and law.
Among the terms of reference of the committee are declaration of wealth generated illegally as national asset; amendment or enactment of laws to confiscate and recover such assets; and provision for exemplary punishment for the crime.