Thursday, August 11, 2005
Throwing darts at black money
Gautam Chikermane points out a problem and offers a solution in the Indian Express:
Up there, right at the top, one of the objectives of our finance minister is to get unaccounted black money into the mainstream and plug tax leakages. With the number of property transactions rising like the Sensex, I wonder how he and his department are unable to see that apartments selling for Rs 50 lakh are being shown as being sold for Rs 15 lakh — an extreme, but real-life situation — how a system where 40-50 per cent of the transacted value is unaccounted for continues to thrive. Right in the capital. The income tax department is looking to collect hundreds and thousands when there are lakhs and crores circulating unabatedly, unabashedly, unchecked.If only.
Here’s a scheme — far simpler than Chidambaram’s 1997 VDIS (Voluntary Disclosure Income Scheme) — to unearth this income. Take the real estate classified “for sale” pages of leading newspapers and put them up on a board. Get five children to throw darts on that paper. Put a team of three IT sleuths and get them to pretend they are buyers of those properties. When the person asks for cash, pay cash. Catch them red-handed and then let the law take its course. Do this in four metros and all state capitals regularly, diligently, sincerely.
Publicise the effort and the outcomes (people caught).