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Saturday,16-October-2021

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Finance Ministry refutes reports of alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland

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The Union Finance Ministry on Saturday said that increase in deposits of Indians in Swiss Banks could be on account of increase in business of Swiss bank branches located in India and raised Inter-bank transactions, rather than due to an increase in alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland.

It, however said that Swiss Authorities have been requested to provide the relevant facts along with their view on possible reasons for increase or decrease in deposits so that facts could be presented in correct perspective.

Certain reports suggested that that funds of Indians in Swiss Banks have risen to over Rs 20,700 crore (CHF 2.55 billion) at the end of 2020 from Rs 6,625 crore (CHF 899 million) at the end of 2019, reversing a 2 year declining trend. It has also been stated that this is also the highest figure of deposits in the last 13 years.

“Reports allude to the fact that the figures reported are official figures reported by banks to Swiss National Bank (SNB) and do not indicate the quantum of much debated alleged black money held by Indians in Switzerland. Further, these statistics do not include the money that Indians, NRIs or others might have in Swiss banks in the names of third-country entities,” the Ministry statement said.

The statement added that the customer deposits have actually fallen from the end of 2019 in a Swiss Banks. The funds held through fiduciaries has also more than halved from end of 2019. The biggest increase is in “Other amounts due from customers”. These are in form of bonds, securities and various other financial instruments, the finance min statement said.

The ministry also ascribed various other reasons for increase in deposits and not possibly on account of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents. It said that that increase in deposits may be on account if increase in deposits owing to the business of Swiss Bank branches located in India or Increase in Inter- bank transactions between Swiss and Indian Banks. Also, it could be due to capital increase for a subsidiary of a Swiss Company in India or increase in the liabilities connected with the outstanding derivative financial instruments.

The government has issued clarifications in wake of widely held position that it has curbed generation of black money in the economy or unaccounted funds of Indians stashed abroad. The fresh tax agreements reached between India and certain perceived tax havens has introduced certain instruments to prevent round tripping of funds and generation of black money.

It is pertinent to point out that India and Switzerland are signatories to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAAC) and both countries have also signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) pursuant to which, the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) is activated between the two countries for sharing of financial account information annually for calendar year 2018 onwards.

Exchanges of Financial Account information in respect of residents of each country have taken place between both countries in 2019 as well as 2020. In view of the existing legal arrangement for exchange of information of financial accounts (which has a significant deterrent effect on tax evasion through undisclosed assets abroad), there does not appear to be any significant possibility of the increase of deposits in the Swiss banks which is out of undeclared incomes of Indian residents, the finance ministry said.

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Petrol, diesel prices rise again, burn bigger holes in consumers’ pockets

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 Petrol and diesel price rose again on Friday taking its retail rates to record high levels across the country affecting consumers this festive season.

Accordingly, in the national capital, petrol and diesel prices increased by 35 paisa per litre to Rs 105.14 per litre and Rs 93.87 per litre, respectively.

In India’s financial capital of Mumbai, petrol became costlier by 34 paisa per litre to Rs 111.09 a litre on Friday, the highest across all the four metro cities. Diesel also costs Rs 101.77 for one litre in Mumbai.

The price hike on Friday is for a second consecutive day after the rates remained static on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Diesel prices now have increased on 17 out of the last 21 days taking up its retail price by Rs 5.25 per litre in Delhi.

With diesel price rising sharply, the fuel is now available at over Rs 100 a litre in several parts of the country. This dubious distinction was earlier available to petrol that had crossed Rs 100 a litre mark across the country a few months earlier.

Petrol prices had maintained stability since September 5 but oil companies finally raised its pump prices last week and this week given a spurt in the product prices lately. Petrol prices have also risen on 14 of the previous 17 days taking up its pump price by Rs 3.95 per litre.

OMCs had preferred to maintain their watch prices on global oil situation before making any revision in prices. This is the reason why petrol prices were not revised for last three weeks. But extreme volatility in global oil price movement has now pushed OMCs to effect the increase.

Crude price has been on a surge rising over three year high level of over $84.5 a barrel now. Since September 5 when both petrol and diesel prices were revised, the price of petrol and diesel in the international market is higher by around $9-10 per barrel as compared to average prices during August.

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Petrol, diesel get more expensive, retail prices up again 35 paise/ltr

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Petrol and diesel prices rose again on Thursday after a two-day break, taking its retail rates to record high levels across the country.

Accordingly, in the national capital, petrol and diesel prices increased by 35 paise per litre to Rs 104.79 per litre and Rs 93.53 per litre respectively.

In India’s financial capital, Mumbai, petrol became costlier by 34 paise per litre to Rs 110.75 a litre on Thursday, the highest across all the four metro cities. Diesel also costs Rs 101.40 for one litre in Mumbai.

The price increase on Thursday has come after fuel prices remained static for the past couple of days.

Diesel prices have now increased 16 out of the last 20 days taking up its retail price by Rs 4.90 per litre in Delhi. The price of diesel has increased between 20-30 paise per litre so far, but, since Wednesday last week it has been increasing by 35 paise per litre.

With diesel prices rising sharply, the fuel is now available at over Rs 100 a litre in several parts of the country. This dubious distinction was earlier available to petrol that had crossed Rs 100 a litre-mark across the country a few months earlier.

Petrol prices had maintained stability since September 5 but oil companies finally raised the pump prices last week and this week given a spurt in the product prices lately. Petrol prices have also risen on 13 of the previous 16 days taking up the pump price by Rs 3.60 per litre.

OMCs had preferred to maintain their watch prices on global oil situation before making any revision in prices. This is the reason why petrol prices were not revised for the last three weeks. But extreme volatility in global oil price movement has now pushed OMCs to effect the increase.

Crude prices have been on a surge rising over a three-year high level of over $ 83.7 a barrel now. Since September 5, when both petrol and diesel prices were revised, the price both in the international market was higher by around $9-10 per barrel as compared to average prices during August.

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Sitharaman attends FMCBG meeting in Washington D.C.

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Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman participated in the 4th G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) Meeting under the Italian Presidency held on October 13 in Washington D.C. on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings.

The meeting was the final FMCBG Meeting under the G20 Italian Presidency and saw discussions and agreements on various issues concerning global economic recovery, pandemic support to vulnerable countries, global health, climate action, international taxation and financial sector issues.

For a sustained recovery from the pandemic, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors agreed to avoid any premature withdrawal of support measures, while preserving financial stability and long-term fiscal sustainability, and safeguarding against downside risks and negative spillovers.

Sitharaman noted that for transitioning from crisis to recovery, one of the major challenges is ensuring equitable access to vaccines for all. The Finance Minister suggested that keeping up the support, building resilience, enhancing productivity and structural reforms should be our policy goals.

The Finance Minister appreciated the role of G20 in rallying pandemic response and supporting vulnerable countries through debt relief measures and the new SDR allocation. Going forward, Sitharaman suggested on focusing efforts on making the benefits reach the intended countries.

The Finance Minister joined the G20 Ministers and Governors in agreeing on the need for strengthening efforts to counter climate change. Sitharaman emphasised that considering the varied policy spaces and different starting points of countries, the centrality of climate justice based on United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change and principles of Paris Agreement would be critical for taking forward discussions towards successful outcomes.

For addressing tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy, the G20 FMCBGs endorsed the final agreement as set out in the Statement on a two-pillar solution and the Detailed Implementation Plan released by the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) on October 8, 2021.

The meeting concluded with the G20 FMCBGs reaffirming their commitment to advance the forward-looking agenda set in the G20 Action Plan to steer the global economy towards a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

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