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Indian Polity

New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said the government will go ahead with operationalizing electoral bonds for a more transparent system of political funding if parties do not give any suggestions on the scheme announced in budget 2017-18.

Speaking at an event marking Income Tax Day celebrations, the finance minister said the system of opaque cash donations could not continue and added that the government had over the past three years been making efforts to bring more transparency to governance, reduce physical interface between officials and taxpayers and make tax administration more efficient.

Jaitley observed that people were reluctant to give suggestions on the proposed electoral bonds scheme.

“If suggestions don’t come and consensus eludes us, then the government of the day can’t run away from its responsibility. It will have to announce its decision which will then become the law of he land,” he said. The government has proposed a cap on anonymous cash donations to political parties at Rs2,000. Under the scheme, donors can purchase electoral bonds from designated banks which parties can redeem for funds.

As part of the government’s efforts to collect information on taxpayers to combat tax evasion, it has introduced compulsory linking of Aadhaar with Permanent Account Number (PAN).

The move, Jaitley pointed out, was being opposed in the name of defending privacy.

Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, who was also present on the occasion, said that with linking of Aadhaar, the 12-digit identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), with PAN would bring to an end the era of bogus PAN cards.

Jaitley said a tradition of tax non-compliance had resulted in sub-optimal revenue collection, thus reducing the state’s ability to spend on welfare measures and defence.

“Now, non-compliance is being defended with right to privacy,” he said.

He added that the legislative measures taken over the last few years were meant to provide an incentive to the honest taxpayer.

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