Money parked by Indians in Switzerland’s banks nearly halved to 676 Swiss francs (about Rs 4,500 crore) in 2016 to hit a record low amid a continuing clampdown on the suspected black money stashed behind their famed secrecy walls. In comparison, the total funds held by all foreign clients of Swiss banks somewhat rose to CHF 1.42 trillion or about Rs 96 lakh crore (from CHF 1.41 trillion a year ago). The total funds held by Indians directly with Swiss banks stood at CHF 664.8 million at the end of 2016, while the same held through fiduciaries was nearly USD 11 million, as per the latest data published today by the country’s central banking authority SNB (Swiss National Bank). The total money of Indians fell by 45 per cent during 2016 to CHF 675.75 million, marking the biggest ever yearly decline in such funds.This included nearly CHF 377 million in form of customer deposits, about CHF 98 million owed to Indians through other banks and CHF 190 million in form of other ‘liabilities’. The figures fell sharply across all categories last year, the SNB data showed. This is the lowest amount of funds held by Indians in the Swiss banks ever since the Alpine nation began making the data public in 1987 and marks the third straight year of decline. The funds held through fiduciaries or wealth managers alone used to be in billions till 2007 but has been falling amid fears of regulatory crackdown.The funds held by Indians with Swiss banks stood at a record high of CHF 6.5 billion (Rs 23,000 crore) at 2006-end, but has now come down to nearly one-tenth of that level in about a decade.While Switzerland has already begun sharing foreign client details on evidence of wrongdoing provided by India and some other countries, it has agreed to further expand its cooperation on India’s fight against black money with a new pact for automatic information exchange from next year. There have been several rounds of discussions between Indian and Swiss government officials on the new framework and also for expediting the pending information requests about suspected illicit accounts of Indians in Swiss banks.The total “amounts due to customers’ savings and deposit accounts” fell from CHF 425.8 million at 2015-end to CHF 376.97 million, while the money held through other banks declined from CHF 270.4 million to CHF 97.8 million (after more than doubling during the previous year). The ‘other liabilities’ of Swiss banks towards Indian clients, which include funds held through securities etc, declined from CHF 510.4 million to CHF 190 million. As per the SNB data, the total money held in Swiss banks by all their foreign clients from across the world however rose from CHF 1.41 trillion (USD 1.45 trillion or about Rs 98 lakh crore) to CHF 1.42 trillion (USD 1.48 trillion) in 2016.The total assets of Swiss banks in India fell from CHF 4.8 billion in 2015 to CHF 3.9 billion in 2016. This does not include any tangible assets like real estate and properties, while the amount due to Swiss banks from their customers stood at about CHF 407 million (down from CHF 570 million in 2015).
On the eve of launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), ADB president Takehiko Nakao said its a good initiative but its implementation will remain a challenge for the government. “There can be some transitional issues like filing of returns and its scrutiny…another issue might be that of enforcement by state and central government tax officials. The arrangement should be very clear,” he said. The government will roll out comprehensive indirect tax reform GST on July 1. GST has been very important achievement of the Indian government and it will integrate the country into one market, he said, while expressing apprehension that implementation would be an important challenge.Giving details of some of the issues related to GST rollout, he said, “when you introduce a new tax regime, sometimes business have to think about pricing…there are businesses which can enjoy reduction in tax burden than previous multiple taxes…so how business adjusts to new tax arrangement is one of the important issues”.Another challenge is doing away with anomalies on input credit and output tax, he said, adding there are so many different tax rates so how to apply different tax rates on various commodities and services for output and inputs. So, those are issues for both businesses and tax authorities, he said.Asked about slowdown due to implementation of GST, Nakao said it is difficult to say because impact is at different level and it is multi layered. “Besides, multi taxes are going to be rationalised which will have positive impact on businesses. Cross trade transfer would be much simpler. For some industry and business, taxes would be lowered so it is very difficult to tell the impact,” he said.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asked the representatives of Trade and Industry to ensure that all benefits arising due to implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from are passed on to the consumers in a transparent manner. Adopting a pro-active approach ahead of the GST rollout, Jaitley held a meeting with the representatives of the trade and industry in the national capital here yesterday. Making his opening remarks at the meeting, the Finance Minister said that overall incidence of tax after implementation of the GST will be less especially in case of the consumer goods than the present incidence of tax, therefore, it is imperative on part of the trade and industry to pass on these benefits to the consumers at large.Jaitley further said that large number of traders have registered themselves and the GST Network and other official machinery is fully ready for smooth rollout of the GST from July 1, 2017. He said that he is sure that the GST will not have any inflationary impact. He asked the representatives of trade and industry to inform, educate and explain to their distributors, retailers and consumers at large about the positive impact of the GST especially on the price front.The representatives of trade and industry on the other hand congratulated the Government for their bold initiative by bringing historical Indirect Tax Reform which will help not only consumers but also boost the prospects of growth of Indian economy. They assured the Government that benefit of price reduction would be passed on the consumers. They also put forward their concerns and asked the Government to issue certain clarifications to remove any doubt or confusion among the traders.The meeting was attended among others by the Revenue Secretary, Hasmukh Adhia, Secretary, Food and Public Distribution, Preeti Sudan, J.P. Prakash, Secretary, Pharma, Chief Economic Adviser, Arvind Subramnian, Chairperson, CBEC , Vanaja N Sarna among others. From the Trade and Industry side, the meeting was attended by representatives from CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, NARED etc along with otherr trade and industry representatives of specific sectors.
While the Centre is ready to launch the ambitious Goods and Services Tax (GST) on a grand note on July 1, former finance minister P Chidambaram feels that the country is underprepared to come up with this new tax regime. A day ahead of the special midnight June 30-July 1 meeting convened by the NDA government on GST implementation, the Congress on Thursday announced it will keep away from it. Asked about the decision of the party, Chidambaram told on India Today that the country is not prepared for the implementation. He further backed his thoughts on GST giving the example of demonetisation that was imposed in November last year that banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Chidambaram said that the government had claimed that it was ready at the time of demonetisation but their unpreparedness was shown up within a few days of it being invoked. He continued saying that he would like to believe that the government is fully ready but what he thinks is that glitches will become evident if it gets implemented on the proposed date. Chidambaram also said that he has travelled around the country and has talked to dozens of businesspersons about GST. After interacting with them, he revealed that businesses are still unprepared.The Congress was in a dilemma over attending the special midnight event in Parliament on June 30 to mark the implementation of the GST. However, after the meeting of Congress President Sonia Gandhi with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with other leaders, the decision was taken to boycott the event, reported PTI. The news agency reported while quoting the sources that some leaders boycotting the event feel that the new tax regime is being implemented in a haste and all aspects have not been taken into consideration and may lead to negatively impacting small traders and businessmen.