In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the following about black/unaccounted money being unearthed after demonetisation:
“This year, see the results, from 1st April to 5th August more than 56 lakh people filed personal income tax returns. Last year in the same period it was just 22 lakh. That’s more than double. These are the results of our fight against corruption.”
The Prime Minister indicated to the country that demonetisation had more than doubled the number of people who file income tax returns. While not all of this increase can be attributed to demonetisation (more here), the PM’s numbers should also be taken with a pinch of salt. In his speech, he reported a 34 lakh increase in the number of those filing tax returns.
This number has been constantly changing in the past few months.
On August 12, while presenting the second volume of the Economic Survey, Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian said the number of new taxpayers added after demonetisation was 5.4 lakh as opposed to PM Modi’s 34 lakh claim days later. (Source)
On August 2, Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar told Parliament in a written reply that 33 lakh new taxpayers have been added to the tax net post demonetisation. (Source)
On May 17, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley claimed a 91 lakh increase as opposed to PM Modi’s 34 lakh claim in August. Jaitley said more than 91 lakh people have been added to the tax net as a result of the action taken by the IT department on tax evaders after demonetisation. (Source) The Finance Ministry later clarified that this was for the entire financial year 2016-2017 and not only after demonetisation but the number actual number remains unknown.
From this we learn that there seems to be no official consensus regarding the number of taxpayers added post-demonetisation:
- PM Modi said it is 34 lakh (August 15),
- CEA Arvind Subramanian said it is 5.4 lakh (August 12),
- Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar said it is 33 lakh (August 2),
- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it is 91 lakh (for financial year 2016-2017) (May 17).
It has been more than nine months since demonetisation took effect and the government is still not able to give the country concrete information regarding its impact. One one hand, information regarding black money unearthed by demonetisation is unknown and on the other hand ministers are giving wildly different estimates about the number of taxpayers added after demonetisation.
The Logical Indian community requests the government to explain this confusion and provide the facts immediately. It is unacceptable that so much confusion and lack of transparency and accountability plagues a democracy.