Concept of parallel economy: Black economy In the Indian economy, there is a dual existence of two economies. Surprising! Yes, there exists two types of economies in most of the developing nations of the world that have exactly the different and opposite objective and both are unable to survive in the presence of the other. However, the existence of such two economies are harmful for the nation. Each economy has its own set of transactions relating to production, consumption,m distribution, investment of goods and services. One economy is called the legitimate economy as the entire set of transactions of the legitimate economy is held by the central or state government or any other authorized body. In other words, there is complete record of the transactions undertaken in lieu of such legitimate economies. The transactions of the economy that are not revealed in any accounting books whatsoever is called the black economy. Thought the parallel or the black economy has its own set of transactions related to production, consumption, distribution of goods and services, there is no such written record of such monetary transactions with the government. It is also refereed to as the "Black money" as the black income forms the basis of such economy. Thus black money refers to that disposable income with the individuals that is generated by the clandestine transactions of the production and distribution of goods and services, investments in non-channelized forms, smuggling, investments in gold, jewellery etc. imported from outside to hides the real income, investments in land, buildings etc, the amount of investments in each case exceeding the total amount revealed in the files submitted to the government offices.
It is very important to draw a clear line of distinction between the black money and the black assets. Black money as a idea of flow determines the generation of income of a person while the black assets signifies the investments in the precious jewels and stones, buildings, land etc. It is a vicious circle that is established in the case of black transactions. For example, a person who has earned black money is not going to invest such money into productive channels but rather invest it some other forms in the black market so as to escape the fear of discovery of such income and in this way, the black money continues to circulate in a parallel economy. Thus, more than half of the official money or through official transactions go to the black money. It is also very unfortunate that the parallel economy is growing in India faster than the legal economy.
It is also very important to note that the amount of black money or the rate of growth of black money in India depends on the general state of business in the economy. During boom period, the unaccounted income grows faster than the periods of depression. Thus, on one had when the country is growing, the amount of black money is also growing.
Causes of black money in India Most of the black money in India is believed to be the off-shoot of the tax evasion. In reality, there are more than the specified causes of such black money in India. No doubt, tax evasion is the major cause but there are other causes too to which the government officials pay not attention.
High rates of taxation lead to the black income with the people High rates of taxation is definitely one of the cause of tax evasion. It is generally a belief in our country that the government officials try to exploit the people through higher rates of taxation (it is true to some extent). Moreover, the people think that the money or the funds raised from such sources by the government is not at all utilized for their benefit. It is distributed among the cabinet ministers of the ruling party illegally. Hence the people find it better to keep the money with themselves rather than giving it to the corrupted ministers. There seems to be the international consensus that the marginal rates of taxation are the best when the rates are lower than 40%. It is very important to note that in the year 1997 or 1998, the rates of property tax was as high as 97%. Though the government of India has decreased the rates of marginal tax, it is still more than the rates of taxation in other foreign countries. To say the least, it is as much as 31% in USA and lower in many other countries. The government of India argues that the higher rates of taxation is due to the developing state of our country as the country need a lot of machinery and capital that it is importing from the developed nations. Hence, the expenditure to build up the infrastructure and the capital is too high. As a result of this high level of maximum taxation, the rate and the proportion of tax evaders have been increasing. It is estimates that the total amount of money evaded through tax is as much as 25000 crore.
Hawala market as the main cause of black money generation It is very well known that the international smugglers or the traders in other illicit trade cannot complete their monetary transactions through any nationalized or other private legal banks in India. Also, the amount of money in which the drugs and other weapons are imported or exported is quite large, usually in billions. Since, these international traders deal with the smugglers of various countries, they always need to convert their domestic money into the currency of the other country which is only possible through the central bank of the countries. but the central bank while financing such a huge transaction shall definitely ask for a proper report for the transaction. Hence, just like the black market, there is another illegal market dealing in such foreign currency conversions called the "Hawala market". In the hawala market, the foreign exchange rate of Indian rupee 23 to 25% higher than the official market. In other words, the Hawala market converts a dollar into the Indian rupee at 25% higher than the legal monetary market. I shall try to give you a complete picture of what happens in this market. Suppose any non-Indian carpenter, engineers is earning is good deal of foreign exchange money. They sell their foreign exchange earnings in the Hawala market in respect of some consideration. The same money is remitted to the international dealers in illicit trade. These foreign currencies are generally purchased by the big businessman who use this money to pay for officially under-invoiced import of industrial goods as this is considered to be lower than the custom duties of 80%. It is estimated that the foreign exchange market accounts for as much as $4 billion flow of the foreign money.
The short era of quantitative and qualitative restrictions imposed on the traders In our country, though it is called the mixed economy, the private sector is subjected to too much of control by the government. These controls include the permits, licenses, quotas etc. The trading in permits and licenses has been generating unearned rent or surplus due to the repeated transfer from one trader to another, thus accounting for black income. Moreover, to bring about suitable distribution of wealth and income and the policy of just to the poor, price control has been a common weapon raised by the government against the private traders. Under this system, the government fixes the maximum price beyond which the trader are not able to sell their products. Problem with regard to this fixation is that the price of fixes keeping in mind the general mass or the all category of income earners. As such, the traders are forced to sell their products in the black market at a higher price than what is fixed by the government. For example, when a person in a particular household needs another cylinder prior to completion of of month, he take it from the black market where one cylinder is sold at a premium of Rs.400 or so. Not only this, the government exercises control over the quantity of a particular commodity or the factor inputs to control inflation or other business conditions in the country. This has led to the hoarding of the products and consequently,the selling of the products in the black market. What about the quota system? In the quota system, the firms on paper have been selling their permits and quotas to the real traders at a premium rate, thus leading to the black income.
Transactions is real estate property Since the sale of property on lease hold is permitted by the government only at a payment of certain amount of premium to it, the lessee generally completes this transaction through the power of attorney so that they escape from paying the premium which is fixed on the basis of the difference between the current market price and the price fixed by the government.
In case of freehold property or the property in which there is complete transfer of ownership at one go, the black income is generated through the sale of the property at the actual value but registering it at a lesser value than the sale value of that property. Thus, a vicious circle is established in the sale and purchase of different kinds of property. In other words, the pugree system is also another source of black income in the property business. It is both the outlet ad the source of black income as there is net absorption of black income of the seller.
Donations to the political parties It is now widely believed that the the two pillars of the Indian economy, that is the politics and the business are acting and lending their hands to each other in the development of these illegal and parallel economy. The big players in the field of business sponsors all the expenses of the political parties relating to the election fight and contests. In return, they ask the political party to relax the stiff laws of the government and the Indian constitution in their favor and also give them concession and incentives without any staunch reasons. This ha created a vicious circle as the ruling party keeps on demanding various form of donations that the business houses regularly provide and the party keeps on giving them the concessions, thus putting a huge burden on the budget of India, sometimes leading to the deficit financing.
Inflation - both a cause and consequence of black money During inflation there is a general rise in the consumer price index or simply the cost of living of the people. As such, the workers and the various labors in the production process demand a rise in their wages to meet the risen expenditure. This lead the the increase in the cost of production of the producers. They try to meet this increased cost of production by increasing the profits margin through sales price. It is to be noted that the rate of increase in the wages in much less than the rate of increase in the profits margin of the producers. But the money income or the wages of the labor are taxed at the source. But the firms have to submit their annual accounting books to the officials on the basis on which the profits are taxed. They can easily manipulate the accounting records by underestimating the sales value and thus, a decline in the gross rate of profits. Inflation increases the effective incidence of black money. The business reduce the burden of tax through tax evasion and under-mention of their rates of profits, while clearly using the extra profits without paying any tax.
Deterioration of the quality and morality of the general masses The 'License-permit-subsidy' concept has led to the relationship that is too friendly between the civil servants and the officials due to various selfish interests. Those self-interests are in view of the businessmen, foreign investors and other brokers. Corruption is the sole motive of this alliance between the two considered rivals in the history whose objectives are a paradox to each other. For example, the objective of the business is generally profit maximization and that of government is social justice and quality that goes against each other. But it seems that both have joined hands to maximize their own profits at the stake of the common people. Bribing the government officials and letting them earn some commissions on the foreign export and import by urging them to reduce the customs duties and simplify the procedure of documentation are some of the common phenomenon in our daily life. The firms through their professional chartered accountants, income tax consultants are easily able to evade taxes by discovering new loopholes in the judiciary system. Have you ever thought why the CAs are paid higher than any other field in commerce. Yes, it is because they know the provisions of the income tax act and other tax laws well than the other.Mundhra scandal involving the investments and the Nagarwala episode involving bank's funds are some of the examples of misappropriation of the profits and the taxes.
Inefficient and rigid tax laws lacking flexibility lead to black money generation It is said that the tax system imposed in the people must be such that the it can be administered and monitored easily while giving the social justice to all. They are called the canons of the good tax system or the requisites of a ideal tax system. Unfortunately, our country do not have many of the canons of the tax system. Tax evasion by the different economic sectors speaks of low administrative efficiency in out tax system. The principle of equity is not at all followed as the rates of taxes on our country is still very high as compared to the other countries. Low administrative efficiency not only leads to tax evasion but also a high amount of outstanding tax. Why is it that the income tax offices have to remind the people about the payment of their dues through the TV. You must have seen that ads in the television bringing out the last date for the payment of the taxes. In most of the cases, even the invoice number and the other details of the trading firm are not checked to see any malicious practices. While presenting the invoice for the payment of VAT or other taxers, the signature is of prior importance but you will be surprised to know that the signature is not even checked. What the officers check is only the amount to be taxed. The firms-on-paper uses this relaxation of the officers to invoice the real firms.
Common man: Prey as well as predator of black money Though the common man's contribution is the generation of black money is considered to be quite insignificant and trifle, yet is forms a major part of the tax evasion. Common man, knowingly or unknowingly evade taxes of the government. There are various ways by which common man performs the above said task. Some of the ways by which the common man also becomes a contributor to the total black money in the country are:
Effects of black income The black money in a developing nations like us has various ill-effects on the people, our political background, our society, infrastructure etc. All the impacts of the black money generation have been discussed here in detail to the best of my knowledge.
InflationAs stated earlier, inflation is both a cause as well as a consequence of the black money in our economy. When there is too much of black money in our economy, people with such large amount of black income generally tens to spend this money extravagantly, thus putting a extra burden on the demand of the goods and the services. they buy what they do not need at present as they consider it unsafe to keep the hard cash with themselves.They invest this money in different forms. Moreover, they raise the aggregate demand of the goods and the services in the market. As demand exceeds the supply, the prices of the commodities tends to rise.Moreover, they people with load of black income tend to buy only luxurious items that shifts the production to these luxurious items. Thus, the resources of the country are wrongly utilized in the production of these commodities rather than necessities. Thus, poor people suffer the most.
Speculative investmentsAs stated earlier, the corrupted ministers and the people with large amount of black money finds it difficult to keep the hard cash in their home due to the fear of detection. They invest in various places where the rate of return is generally higher such as second hand shares, real estate business, buildings, gold and silver and other financial assets. The rocketing prices of the buildings and the flats in the urban areas are both a result and cause of this black income. This type of investments are not good for the country as money is directed into wrong channels. There is no net value added to the productive capacity of the country. Only, the people receive capital gains.
Terrorist financing It is surprising but it is true that the black money results in the financing of the terrorists activities in our country that results in various black and anti-social attacks such as the bomb explosions, firing and various other activities. The terrorists generally keep a track of all the ministers earning money illegally and through corruption. They blackmail such ministers to reveal their personal accounts and their black money if they do not finance their activities. The ministers have not way left but to surrender to their demands. Hawala market also leads to the financing of the terrorism much in the same way as it finances illegal international transactions. China and other similar countries have various relaxed laws as compared to the other countries with respect to the Hawala system. Thus, it is imperative that the terrorists receive much of their finance from these countries.
Improper infrastructure and social welfare schemes As more and more taxes are evaded by the corrupt officials and the general public, the government has less of the money to spend on the people's needs and the needs of the society as a whole. Bridges, roads, government schools and hospitals, orphanages, aid to the victims of the natural and man-made disasters, unemployment allowances, pension schemes and many more of such social welfare programs cannot be adequately undertaken by the government. Thus, there is an underdeveloped infrastructure in the country that acts as an disincentive for the industrial investments including the foreign direct investments as the private entrepreneurs are not interested to invest in a country whose infrastructure is not very well developed. Less industrial investments in the country enhances the cases of unemployment and leads to the wastage of the human capital.
Inequality of income and assets in the society due to black money Black money results in the social injustice and fallacy in the economy. The rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer due to two reasons. Firstly, as black money causes inflation in the economy, the poor and middle class family suffers due to hike in the prices of general goods and the rich business class enjoys high rates of returns on their investments.Thus it widens the gap of the income between the rich and the poor. It divides the whole economy into the "haves and the have-not". The tax evaders finances their expenses for a high profile living at the expense of the honest tax payers. Thus, it acts as a discouraging acts for the honest tax payers to fulfill their obligations. When the government is not able to receive adequate taxes for its expenditure on public utility services, it again raises the tax rate for the honest tax payers. Thus, there is a shift of burden of tax from the tax evaders to the honest citizens.
Policies undertaken by the government to unearth and legalize black money in the Indian economy
DemonetizationI think most of you shall be well aware of this term, often used in the case of high inflation and to curb black income. It has been one of the oldest weapon in the hands of the government. Under this scheme, the government starts withdrawing the denominations of Rs.1000 and above as most of the people hide their black money in the form of these noted of high value. Demonetization of high denominations came into the system since 1946. It is important to state that demonetization in the year, 1946 was of the value Rs 148 crore as against Rs.1235 crore of the denominations that were in circulation at that time. Hence, it could not be a grand success at that point of time.
Voluntary disclosure schemes When the government found that the most important cause for the generation of the black money into the Indian economy was the tax evasion guided by a high rates of marginal tax system, it started the voluntary disclosure scheme under which the people themselves shall go the the income tax department and confess the total worth of the black money and the assets. In return of this confession, the government granted the tax evaders two benefits: Firstly, it shall immune and shield the guilty from any kind of investigation regarding the sources of the black income and their indulgent in it. Secondly, the rate of taxation on their black income shall be 10% lower than that of the normal ta payers. Thus, this policy acted as an encouragement to the tax evaders to escape from any kind of legal prosecution as well as save tax since they were assured of no investigation.It gave them the chance of converting their black money into "white". This scheme was revised in various years. Let us have a glimpse of the scheme and its enforcement since independence:
Another scheme called the "black scheme" was introduced under which there was not fixed rate of taxation. Just like the present progressive rate of taxation, various slabs were fixed based on the total amount of black income held by the people.
Special bearer bond scheme of 1981 The government under this scheme allowed the tax evaders to hols special bond of face value of Rs.10000 each with the maturity period of 10 years. After the expiry of these ten years, the holder of such special bonds shall be entitled to receive Rs.12000 per bonds as against their face value of Rs.10000. These bonds shall have the right of transfer without the bad name of the transferor. Thus, only the ownership rights shall be transferred and the subsequent holder of these bonds shall not be questioned as to the meas of possession of such bonds. Thus, it provided dual benefits to the black income earners. Under this scheme, the black money up to Rs.1052 crore was eliminated and withdrawn from the market and hence, it made it the most successful scheme till that year.
Raids This was the most common means to catch the guilty and the tax evaders and put them behind bars on the spot. The black income earners were caught and arrested on spot on the basis of some intelligence reports received by the government regarding such people. The raids were conducted on the houses and the resident of such people, the business offices and premises to search for the documents that were not revealed at the time of asset declaration. Such raids were quite useful though it lead to mass uprising when the ministers came under this raids. It not only unearthed the black money but also the black assets that were purchased on the basis of such income.
Gold bond scheme of 1993This scheme was very similar to the voluntary disclosure scheme of the previous years with the exception that it was aimed at legalizing the black gold and silver or in other words the gold and silver that were purchased with the help of the black money. Under this method, the people were assured that no questions shall be asked about the process of acquisition of gold or silver. Moreover, a conditions was put forward that the gold and silver must be more than 0.995 purity and to acquire the Gold bond, the deposited gold of the above mentioned purity must not be less than 500 grams. Ornaments and jewellery can also be tendered but they must be melted to make them 0.995 pure. This scheme was in operation for about three months. It was estimated that the total amount of gold and silver legalized was about 100 to 200 tons.
Various measures undertaken to eliminate black money from the Indian economy Till the year 1993, the government has been trying to legalize the black money in the form of various bond and voluntary disclosure schemes rather than thinking of a process and mechanism to eliminate it completely from the country. I have tried to mention some of the measures that were undertaken in the past and need to be re-implemented in the present.
Preventing the inflow of the smuggled gold Since the prices of the gold and silver in the international market is lower than that prevailing in our economy, it served as an encouragement to smuggle the gold or illegally import the gold in India. This smuggling was an important source of generation of black income. In the year 1993, the government of India tried to liberalize the import of gold in the Indian market through various concessions, customs duty relaxation, duty free imports in exceptional cases etc. Thus, the prices of gold in the Indian market became more or less equal to that of the international market. It prohibited the smugglers to take sufficient risk in importing the gold illegally. They found it more profitable to buy the gold from the Indian market itself. Under this method, the NRIs were allowed to import 5 Kg of gold per passenger with an import duty of only Rs.220 per 10 grams. Similarly, silver imports up to 100 kg per passenger with an import duty of Rs.500 per kg has been allowed. However a restriction was placed for the above imports. No one can import articles worth more than Rs. 1.5 lakh.
Reducing the difference in exchange rate between the official market and the Hawala market I have already mentioned that there existed a huge difference between the exchange rates in the Hawala market and the official market for the foreign currencies. The Liberalized Exchange Rate Management system (LERMS) reduced this difference to about 8%. Soon, Unified Market-determined Exchange Rate system tried to put an end to the Hawala market. But still, this system continued to exist in the background of the Indian economy as still, some flexibility is needed in the exchange rate difference.
Policy of LPG model of growth LPG growth of model meant Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization. Under the liberalization policy of the government, the licensing system, permits, quotas and other restrictions imposed on the private sector was abolished. Thus, it reduced the amount of donations to be given to the civil servants by the business class to get the license easily. Under the privatization policy of the government, the new sectors that were previously exclusively reserved for the public sector were opened for the private sector. Only three industries namely railway, atomic power and defense requirements were reserved for the public sector. This made the establishment of the private industries more profitable so that the private sector need not indulge in corrupt and malicious acts. In short, liberalization would abolish unearned rent as black incomes. Along with these reforms, the tax reforms were also introduced. There was a moderation of tax rates and improvement in tax compliance.
Policy against the black money stored in the Swiss banks Much of the credit for the black money in India and the safety of those black income earners goes to the policies of the Swiss banks. The Swiss banks have a policy of not disclosing and revealing the bank account information of their customers to any authority for any purpose whatsoever. It has made the source of attraction for the corrupt ministers, IPS officers and industrialists. However, recently the government of India has urged the other nations to put pressure on the Swiss banks to disclose the accounting details of the Indian account holders. As per their reports submitted by the Swiss bank, there is a total of $1.4 trillion of black money related to the Indian accounts. This make India rank first in the list of the black money account holders followed by Russia, Ukraine, USA and China. This value if 13 times the total foreign debt that the country owes to other nations. A vast amount of money is taken as loan from other countries to improve infrastructure, capital and technical know-how. If the black money in the Swiss banks can be unearthed, not only India can clear its foreign debt but also the government shall be able to run the country without any collection of tax for 25 long years. Think of the improvements and the development India can make withe the titanic amount of black money hidden in various forms and in various parts of India and the worlds. India should find alternative methods of finding the details of the customers. For example, it can monitor the visits of all the VIPs to Switzerland. It is estimated that 80 thousand people visit this beautiful nation every year out of which 40% visit regularly. Thus, there must be a definite purpose for which they are making these frequent visits. These visits can be monitored and then, a proper investigation carried out for such tourists.
Ratification of UN conventions against corruption India has recently ratified the UN conventions against black money and corruption. Though there has been a delay, it is believed to the politically clever and good way as the signatories to this convention shall require to lend each other the mutual help for tracing and freezing the accounts of the black money earners and of found, to be prosecuted.The convention came into force in 20005 and has been ratified only once since then.
Five-tier policy of the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, the central finance minister of India has formulated five ways to tackle black money both in India and that hidden in the foreign nations. These five policies are now at initial stage and may take long time to be implemented due to the involvement of various countries. There are more bilateral issues involved in the implementation of these policies.
Baba Ramdev and his individual "Satyagraha" After the protests by Anna Hazare, it is this yoga guru that has captured the highlights of the media. He has led this movement to fight against corruption and black money of India in the foreign banks. He has followed the same line of thought as Anna Hazare but his movement has been an utter failure due to the cruel face shown by the government towards his fast. It has not been long when the police openly attacked the "Satyagrahis" sleeping at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi. Section 144 was imposed on the place whereby the tear gas, Lathi charges etc were inflicted ion the innocent people. There were various other charges against Baba and his companion, Balkrishna on the basis of which the government justified their cruel and gruesome actions. The movement has attracted widespread attention from the general mass but nothing has been there from the central government. No response was initiated on the behalf of the government though the government has agreed to impose the "Asset declaration" policy under which the ministers shall be required to reveal to the public, their assets and hard cash balances. The "asset declaration" policy of the government has been an utter failure due to various reasons. One prime reason is the unwillingness of the ministers to disclose their assets. Baba has made it clear that his protests are not going to stop at any case and he shall form an army of 11000 men who shall be trained with arms in all respect. He has also declared the total worth of his movable as well as immovable property that amounts to as much as 1100 crore including all the trusts. However, Baba has not stated any strong remedial measures to the government to be taken against the black money. He is only demanding the elimination of black money without actually going into the problems faced by the government to trace the sources of these black incomes. He has not been able to frame any strong bill as Jan Lokpal bill. He must suggest some concrete ideas to the government whereby they can act fair.
It is a big question whether the Individual satyagraha movement after Gandhiji will ever be successful?