Agnivesh questions use of funds, Team Anna says it is clean

Besides Team Anna detractor Agnivesh, another former member ‘Waterman’ Rajinder Singh also raised the issue urging Mr Kejriwal to come clean on the controversy regarding donations to Anna Hazare movement, saying he could not see transparency in the matter as Team Anna preaches

New Delhi: Questions were raised on Sunday about the use of funds donated by the public to Team Anna with Swami Agnivesh alleging that money was deposited in the trust run by Arvind Kejriwal from which the names of major team members were missing, a claim dismissed as made “out of anger”, reports PTI.

Besides Team Anna detractor Agnivesh, another former member ‘Waterman’ Rajinder Singh also raised the issue urging Mr Kejriwal to come clean on the controversy regarding donations to Anna Hazare movement, saying he could not see transparency in the matter as Team Anna preaches.

Team Anna dismissed the allegations, saying Agnivesh might be levelling such accusations “out of anger”. Agnivesh was removed from the Team following the surfacing of a video clip which purportedly showed him asking a person to deal strongly with Mr Hazare.

They said all details regarding their accounts will be put on the website of Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), by this month-end after a special audit. Activist Kiran Bedi, who is facing allegations of overcharging institutions on travel bills, alleged that there was a “pattern to defame” Team Anna members and said “hang some of us if that helps”.

Agnivesh, who had on Saturday alleged that Mr Kejriwal has siphoned off over Rs80 lakh donated by people for Anna Hazare’s agitation by diverting it to a trust run by him, said Mr Hazare does not have his name in the Public Cause Research Foundation run by Mr Kejriwal.

“Even justice Santosh Hegde, who has a clean image, does not have his name in the trust. So, the main members of the team were not part of the trust and the old trust where Mr Kejriwal and his members were part...the money was deposited in their name,” he alleged.

“I am not blaming Mr Kejriwal that he is deliberately doing so and does not want transparency. I am also not saying there is some fraud and corruption in accounts,” Angivesh said, insisting that his protest is only for transparency.

Claiming that Mr Hazare was keen to have a new trust and include new members, Agnivesh said he wanted to complete the audit by 15th October and had asked Mr Kejriwal to put on the website the details of donations received by them in the core committee meeting.

Maintaining that his protest in only for transparency, he said, “I have said this (to give details of accounts) because if they will do it as soon as possible, there won’t be any doubt and question. If they will delay, people would question why the accounts are not given”.

“India Against Corruption campaign is about transparency.

When we are fighting against corruption, then transparency is main and important part of it, accountability is second part of it,” he said.

“In the middle there were questions raised on Indian Vision Foundation and on Kiran Bedi’s flight fare controversy and all then it has become more important to check the accounts of old trusts,” he said.

Agnivesh had on Saturday alleged that all donations which were made for the India Against Corruption (IAC) were diverted to Public Cause Research Foundation run by Mr Kejriwal and that Mr Kejriwal was delaying the opening of a bank account in the name of IAC.

Maintaining that they were ‘transparent’ in their functioning, Mr Kejriwal’s associate and Team Anna member Manish Sisodia said, “Our accounts are already on the website. We have conducted a special audit for the last six months and by the month end we are putting the details on the website.”

On Agnivesh, he said, “We have no animosity with Swami Agnivesh. He could have said something out of anger. It’s not in our custom to rebut against anything that an elderly says.

He is a good person and we all respect him.”

He said Mr Hazare was aware that donations were being deposited in the foundation account and nothing was hid from him.

Reacting to the developments, Ms Bedi said, “There is obviously a pattern to defame every member of Team Anna. It has been systematic from day one.”

“Team Anna is paying a personal cost for raising national concerns on rampant corruption and voter awareness to ensure the passing of the bill in Parliament,” she said.

She said this only underscores the need to stay focussed on the Winter Session of Parliament and ensure that the Jan Lokpal Bill is enacted.

Ms Bedi said the Mr Hazare movement was of millions and there was a need for staying united. “After that hang some of us if that helps. If my saving for poor by means I followed is wrong I be punished. Same Lokpal can punish me. Distraction is being manipulated,” she said.

Rajinder Singh, who quit Team Anna recently following differences, urged Team Anna to come clean on the controversy, saying he could not see transparency in the matter as Team Anna preaches.

He alleged that Team Anna could have erred in the matter as they did in plunging into “party politics”. “They preach transparency but in this case, we cannot see any transparency.

They should come clean on this. We are not super humans and we all make mistakes. But the moment you realise it, one should correct it and come out clean.”

“There are doubts about the Hazare movement. A lot of time has been lost before getting things in order. One should come clean as fast as one can because government may use pressure to curb the movement,” Mr Singh said, adding accounts were not discussed in the core committee meetings.

At the same time he said, “They might have erred in this matter like the way they plunged into party politics. All movements are political but taking active part in party politics is a different thing.”

Asked whether the Hazare movement has lost its way, Mr Singh said it started with one particular purpose but now it seems, it has other purposes.

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I-T dept sets up special cell to track ‘missing’ tax payers

The department has decided to send show-cause notices to those assessees, who have reported “no assets/inadequate assets for recovery”, by this month end asking why their names should not be published and put in the public domain

New Delhi: Stepping up measures to recover over Rs1,00,000 crore of unpaid taxes, the Income Tax (I-T0 department has set up a special cell to track tax payers who are ‘untraceable’ or have reported inadequate assets to pay back tax demands, reports PTI.

The department has also decided to search and approach every possible database or agency, ranging from the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Financial Intelligence Unit, banks to local police stations, municipal authorities and network of informers for any clue about such tax payers.

Various commissioners of the department across the country have also been asked to send quarterly reports of their areas in this regard to the special cell created in the recoveries wing of the department in the National Capital.

“The special cell will liase with all the I-T ranges across the country and obtain data from various government databases. The department will also sift information on such tax payers in its own databases like PAN card and 360-degree profiling,” a senior I-T official said.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in June this year constituted a committee under Director General (Administration) to examine pending cases on I-T demands under the categories “assessees not traceable” and “no assets/ inadequate assets for recovery”.

According to the latest data, I-T demands have been pegged at Rs1,01,836 crore.

The constitution of this committee, which have senior I-T officials from various units including investigation and intelligence, is among the measures the government has taken to fight black money.

The I-T department has recently decided to publish the names of defaulters who owe more than Rs10 crore as unpaid taxes.

The department has decided to send show-cause notices to those assessees, who have reported “no assets/inadequate assets for recovery”, by this month end asking why their names should not be published and put in the public domain.

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RBI may again raise policy rates by 25 bps: Bankers

Although bankers have suggested the RBI to pause on its interest rate hike cycle to check deterioration in asset quality and fire up credit demand, there is little chance that the central bank will accommodate their requests as both food and headline inflation are very high

Mumbai: Faced with double-digit inflation, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to raise its policy rate again in its half-yearly review of the monetary policy on Tuesday, reports PTI quoting bankers.

Although bankers have suggested the RBI to pause on its interest rate hike cycle to check deterioration in asset quality and fire up credit demand, there is little chance that the central bank will accommodate their requests as both food and headline inflation are very high.

“It is clear that inflation is high I believe that there be interest rate hike of 25 basis points (bps) by the RBI,” Central Bank of India chairman and managing director MV Tanksale told PTI.

Vijaya Bank chairman and managing director HS Upendra Kamath said, “My view is that to control price situation there would be continuation of monetary policy.”

The central bank has hiked interest rates by 350 basis points since March 2010 to deal with the persistent high inflation, including rising prices of food items. If the RBI raises rates, it would be 13th hike in a span of about 30 months.

IDBI chairman and managing director RM Malla said, “My own sense is that there could be a pause or hike of maximum 25 basis points by the RBI in its review of the monetary policy.”

The RBI is also confronted with a weakening rupee which puts further pressure on inflation. Besides, slackening industrial growth leaves limited choices for the RBI especially in view of difficult global economic environment.

The central bank has already hinted that inflation must ease before the central bank can reduce interest rates.

“We are deeply sensitive in making India a low interest rate regime but that will take time,” RBI governor D Subbarao had said earlier this month.

“First, we need to bring inflation down in order to bring interest rates down,” he had said.

While the food inflation has touched a six month high of 10.60%, the overall rate of price rise measured on the basis of Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is stubbornly close to double digit since December last year.

The headline inflation at 9.72% in September was a tad lower than 9.78% in August but way above RBI’s comfort zone.

A weak rupee is also adding to the inflationary pressure as it pushes up the landed cost of imported commodities.

India depends on imports to meet 80% of its crude oil requirement. It also imports a large quantity of vegetable oils and pulses.

Terming the food inflation situation as a matter of worry, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had said “we shall have to ensure...the supply constraints which are the major reason for the food inflation how to tackle it.”

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