Ajit Doval, currently national security advisor and one of the most important persons in Modi administration, had openly shared his ideas, a few years ago, on how to get black money back that is stashed abroad
Ajit Doval, the National Security Advisor (NSA) of India, is not a run-of-the-mill officer. An ardent nationalist, he comes packed with abilities to conceptualise strategies and plans that may realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dreams and national goals. Doval is former Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of India. He is a recipient of the Kirti Chakra, one of the highest military gallantry awards, the President's Police Medal for distinguished service, and the Indian Police Medal for meritorious service.
Doval, in a blogpost on 21 February 2011 talked about how India can get the money plundered abroad. Here is a summary of his thoughts, which are significant given the powerful position he commands in the current administration.
"The basic problems that India faces are two-fold. Firstly, a continuing rise in the share of black money that has acquired alarming proportions and secondly a substantial portion of it getting stashed in tax havens abroad. What compounds the problem is the fact that the state is seen as lacking both the capacity and the intention to reform the system or deter the wrong doers. A nexus between the black money and those exercising power is suspected by the people, weakening the national will and raising the level of public cynicism. Contrary to expectations, liberalisation and economic growth, rather than abating, has multiplied the phenomenon manifold. Ironically, during the last five years, when the country witnessed a high economic growth, had an economist Prime Minister donning the mantle of ‘Mr Clean’ and global environment was relatively conducive to track the dirty money, growth of black money and its illegal movement abroad has been the highest. The Global Financial Integrity (GFI) has estimated that more than two-third of the Indian money stashed abroad has been generated in post liberalisation period after mid-nineties. The Supreme Court of India observed it to be not just tax evasion but “Theft” and “Plunder” of Indian money," Doval wrote in 2011.
According to the 'super-spy', to get back the money stashed abroad is a painstaking and time-consuming task. He says, "The nation will have to design a well thought out multi-pronged strategy ranging from enacting appropriate laws, empowering its investigative and intelligence agencies, using political and diplomatic pressures and leveraging its new economic clout to achieve its goals. Most importantly, a political consensus and national will have to be created to achieve this national objective."
Here are the measures suggested by Doval at that time to bring back the 'black money':
a) Taking cognizance of reports of the IMF and GFI the Government of India should enact a law emphasizing that huge Indian capital has been illegally stashed away and needs to be ploughed back. It should be a penal law so that all the defaulters could be treated as criminals. On the strength of this law the government should declare itself as the sole owner and beneficiary of all Indian monies, assets and bank accounts held abroad by or the dependants of Indian nationals without due declarations to the Indian authorities. The law may provide that where the Indian national are able to prove that the assets held by them have been acquired through proper means and the non-declaration was merely a technical default, the government should restore the assets back to the claimant. It, however, should shift the onus of proof on the person who holds undeclared wealth abroad. On the strength of the said law, the Government of India can ask the world governments and the foreign banks, like the Swiss Banks, to recognize Indian government as the beneficiary of the undeclared wealth and freeze the accounts till owners of the wealth are able to prove that they had acquired it by fair means and from legally valid sources.
b) On the basis of various expert reports and other credible information available, there are reasonable grounds to infer that a substantial portion of Indian illegal money stashed in foreign banks owes its origin to criminal activities like corruption, misappropriation of government funds, fraud, cheating, activities of organized criminal gangs, drug mafias, terrorist financing, ransoms etc. All these are cognizable offences punishable under criminal laws of India including the Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act, The Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, Foreign Exchange Management Act, The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Money Laundering Act, The Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Forfeiture of Property Act etc.
Government of India should suo moto register an omnibus criminal case against suspected unidentified persons who have been indulging in criminal activities and unauthorisedly transferring the money to tax havens abroad. The case may be transferred to a special team of the CBI and investigated under supervision of the Supreme Court. They must register the FIR under various sections of the IPC, money laundering and anti-terror laws etc. Registration of the criminal case will enable the investigating agencies to summon people for questioning, interrogate suspected persons, seize incriminating documents, conduct raids, make arrests, examine documents etc.
This would also enable the Government to get assistance of foreign police and investigating agencies for gathering requisite evidence and information. Most importantly, this will empower the government to approach different banks abroad, as also the concerned governments, for information regarding the money trail as they pertain to criminal cases.
c) Lots of monies of Indians in secret bank accounts have been appropriated by the banks, as the account holders cannot by legal and open documentation bequeath them to their progenies and most of them die without informing their progeny about the account. This may run into billions from the 1950s. Such monies should be declared by a special law as and vested in government of India with a provision that the progenies of the account holder may claim the same by providing requisite evidence to show that the monies in such accounts were sourced in legal business.
d) Indian political system needs to recognise that India is already a leading economy and an emerging geo-political power. In the shifting economic centres of gravity in the new world order, countries, particularly the tiny tots like Switzerland, will have enormous stakes in our country. The present and potential power of India should be leveraged, like US and Germany did to reclaim the black monies of its nationals stashed abroad. Switzerland has billions of dollars of investments in India that they would not like to jeopardise by ignoring our laws or undermining our bonafide national interests. If our geo-political power was properly exercised, the Swiss government could never have behaved the way it did in Hasan Ali case.
e) Every electoral candidate should file an affidavit before elections that he does not hold illegal money abroad. The same should be applied to senior appointees like Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), SEBI Chairman, CBI Director, Cabinet Secretary, IB Director, RAW Chief and CVC. By an act of Parliament, persons who have accumulated funds abroad should be barred from holding any public office and getting loans from banks as a form of punishment.
f) India must join global efforts against tax havens and secret banking. Recently, there was a Task force meeting of the Financial Integrity & Economic Development— in Bergen Norway on 28-29 September 2010. Our Finance ministry representatives also attended the conclave but remained a passive participant. The Task Force, a consortium of more than 60 governments, NGOs and foundations, is focused on the need for greater transparency in the global financial system for the benefit of both developing countries and industrialised nations. Governments participating in the Task Force include Norway, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Chile, Canada and the Paris-based Secretariat of the 59 government members of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development. Global Financial Integrity leads the Task Force. We are currently full member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that gives us more elbowroom from being an observer than in the past. The FATF provides opening to us for taking up national interest financial issues at global fora as also the type of actions we could initiate at the domestic front. India should play a lead role in all these initiative.
Doval wrote, "We are living in extra ordinary times – with possibilities ahead both of great opportunities and historic blunders. As a nation, we owe it to the deprived and ordinary people of India and future citizens of India the sacred duty of unearthing these vast national resources, which has the potential to transform the country into a developed nation much sooner than we can otherwise. India is not only a country, but, also a great civilization, which has from time immemorial propagated non conflicting ideas and practiced non-conflicting methods."
"As a rising nation, we need to set proper standards for ourselves so that we become the alternative model for the world of conflict in search of peace and harmony. Being viewed as a corrupt and dishonest nation and being seen as a nation of buccaneers who bolt away with billions of dollars when a vast population of our country is living in abject poverty will hardly give us the moral and ethical authority to be of example to the world. The time is propitious and we need to act displaying highest degree of national will to get our looted money back," the NSA wrote in 2011.
It would be interesting to see how Doval and the Modi government implements these ideas to bring the money plundered and stashed abroad.
In July, crude oil price was around $100. Now it’s around $65. What has caused the oil price to crash 35% suddenly?
The US Benchmark Western Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell to $64.47 today which was its lowest level since May 2010. This comes after the WTI contracts for January had already crashed 10% at market close on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday. Why has crude oil price oil been on a relentless slide over the past four months? Normally, declines such as this are associated with fears of recession. What are the reasons this time?
US shale oil revolution: The main reason is that there is an oversupply in the oil market thanks to shale oil revolution in the US. Most people had barely heard of shale oil until a few years ago. As recently as two years ago, shale oil was being dismissed by all market participants as a sideshow. Now, shale oil production from the US has taken its oil production back to the level seen in the 80s, causing a major oil glut in the markets. This, combined with the other two factors noted below, has caused a prolonged drop in world oil prices.
OPEC holds production: Conspiracy theorists say that OPEC, the cartel of oil-producing countries wants to break the back of US shale oil companies and actually wants prices to go down. This is why in the meeting held on 27 November, OPEC countries voted to continue oil production at current levels, which stands at 30 million barrels a day.
Disregarding worries from Venezuela, Iran and Iraq, the Saudis pushed for higher production to sustain market share, and bankrupt US shale oil companies, and OPEC subsequently voted for the Saudi position. Of course, OPEC countries depend on oil exports for their economic balance and may suffer serious financial setback by selling their oil for cheaper, in the hope that they would be able to bankrupt shale producers before they bankrupt themselves. At least three OPEC members were apprehensive of fighting a war of attrition against the shale oil producers. Expert opinion on whether shale will stay viable is divided considering that the technologies and economics of shale oil are still not widely understood.
Chinese consumption slump: While the drop in oil prices is largely because of increased production by the world's largest oil consumer, the US, there is a third major factor at play. Until a few years ago, OPEC could tweak production to manage oil prices according to demand. With the slowdown in China, the oil demand itself is slowing down.
Over the last few years, China was the new market for oil that grew but no new large market seems to be on the horizon that can consume the way China did. If there is a slowing growth in the overall market, coupled by increased production by the world's largest oil consumer itself, it is anybody's guess as to how long the price wars can go on.
Falling oil prices have however been good news for India. Share prices of Indian oil marketing companies shot up as higher oil consumption is expected as a result of lower prices. An improved economic scenario, lower oil import bill and input costs have already spurred the stock markets higher. The overall result of the oil price saga will play out over the long term and for now oil importers and consumers will remain a happy bunch.
The choice facing OPEC is that it could hold production and grow the number of overall oil consumers while taking a short term fiscal beating, with the hope to drive shale oil out of the game. Or OPEC to drop production and hold prices but with the guarantee of losing market share to shale oil and almost inevitably causing long term harm to its interests.
In choosing the former, OPEC seems to have dug in for the long fight.
This is the fifth straight reduction since August in rates of non-subsidised LPG, which customers buy after exhausting their quota of 12 cylinders at subsidised rates
State-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) on Monday cut price of non-subsidised cooking gas (LPG) by a steep Rs113 per cylinder and that of jet fuel (ATF) by 4.1% as international oil rates slumped to multi-year lows.
In Delhi, a 14.2-kg cylinder of non-subsidised LPG will now cost Rs752, instead of Rs865 previously, OMCs said.
This is the fifth straight reduction in rates of non-subsidised or market priced LPG, which the customers buy after exhausting their quota of 12 cylinders at subsidised rates, since August.
In five monthly reduction, non-domestic LPG rates have been slashed by Rs170.5 per cylinder, bringing the price at three-year lows.
On similar lines, the price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF), or jet fuel, at Delhi was cut by Rs2,594.93 per kilolitre, or 4.1%, to Rs59,943 per kl. This is the fifth straight monthly reduction in rates.
This reduction follows a steep 7.3% or Rs4,987.7 per kl, cut in prices on 1st November.
Since August, ATF prices have been cut by 14.5% or Rs10,218.76 per kl and rates have dipped below Rs60,000 per kl level for the first time in three years.
Brent, the benchmark grade for more than half of the world's oil, has dropped to $68.34 a barrel, the lowest level since October 2009. Prices declined 18% last month and are 38% lower in 2014.
In Mumbai, jet fuel will cost Rs61,695 per kl as against Rs64,414.98 per kl previously. The rates vary because of differences in local sales tax or VAT.