The Wire is very fond of taking on the ‘powers that be’, as long as the power in question is BJP and its affiliates. Sometimes it does so on the basis of facts which is admirable and a necessity in a democracy which could work as an eye-opener for the government. But due to its inherent and inexplicable hatred towards Modi government, the Wire has resorted to fabricating facts to prove the claims of the government as false. Two writers named Prasenjit Bose and Zico Dasgupta have written an article on the Wire which claims whatever the finance minister has stated in terms of the decline in Indian deposits in Swiss banks is misleading and the fact is that many times of that amount has flown out of India into offshore bank accounts across various countries. Piyush Goyal recently informed the parliament that Indian money in Swiss banks fell 34.5% in 2017 against the media reports that claimed that it has gone up by 50 percent.
Now, the Wire which claims to have a firm understanding of the first quarterly data of 2018, goes on to prove every statement of Piyush Goyal but in the very same breath contradicts the claims or simply distorts it. In its first allegation, the Wire claims that “total loans and deposit liabilities of the Swiss banks vis-a-vis Indian residents from all sectors had fallen from $787 million in 2013 to $249 million in 2017, but has risen again to $453 million or Rs 2945 crore in Q1: 2018 (end-March).” Now, the important point, which the article conveniently fails to mention, is that Piyush Goyal gave clarification for the data as well. He clearly said that that it is “till 2017”. So, even if the Wire’s claim for 2018 data is right then it will be looked after by the government and the clarifications will be issued BUT ONLY at the end of this fiscal year. The joint declaration for the implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) which was signed between Switzerland and India in November last year provides that both countries would start collecting data in accordance with the global standards in 2018 and exchange it from 2019 onwards. The second point is that all the money deposited by Indians in Swiss Banks is not black money because the Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS) allows any person to deposit 2,50,000 dollars for overseas education, travel, medical treatment and purchase of shares and property, apart from maintenance of relatives living abroad, gifting and donations. The LRS limit was increased gradually to meet the increasing expenses of the students studying in foreign countries.
Another claim by the Wire is that the decline in total deposits started from 2008 so there is nothing to suggest that this decline is caused by any policy action undertaken by the Modi government. But the fact is that between 2008 (Q4) and 2013 (Q4) there was a 56.4% decline in Non-Bank Deposits and Liabilities (NBDL) to Switzerland while between 2013 (Q4) and 2018 (Q4) it was 85.6%. So, the pattern is very clear from the data published by The Wire itself that there was larger percentage decline in NBDL during the NDA government compared to the UPA Government.
The next claim of the article is that the stock and flow data on Indian non-bank loans and deposits in Swiss banks provided by the BIS does not nullify the data on Swiss bank deposits provided by the Swiss National Bank (SNB). The clarification for this was provided by Piyush Goyal that the data provided by BIS takes into account the money deposited by Indians in non-Swiss branches of Swiss banks. And the letter from the Swiss ambassador explicitly mentions that the right data to identify Indian residents’ deposits in Switzerland is published by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) which collects locational Banking Statistics in collaboration with the SNB. The Wire has also calculated all the figures which were provided in dollar to Indian rupees to exaggerate the real amount ignoring the rising income and depreciating relative value of rupee.
The final claim by the Wire is that all black money is not deposited in Switzerland but most of this is in other countries like Japan, France etc. The allegation that all the money deposited in non-financial bank accounts is black is completely false. The wealth of Indian people is increasing due to liberalized economy and people have started spending money on overseas education, travel, medical treatment and purchase of shares and property in foreign countries, maintenance of relatives living abroad, and gifting and donations to relatives. So the allegation by the Wire that all the money deposited in these countries is black money is result of a prejudiced view and distorted methodology. The government has signed an agreement on Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) and the data about money deposited aboard will be available to the government by 2019. So let the government agencies scrutinize the data and it will decide how much of the deposited money is black.
The hit job by the Wire against finance minister Piyush Goyal without any scrutiny should not be accepted by the journalistic community. The writers of this article are Prasenjit Bose and Zico Dasgupta. Bose has been a JNU student and was member of the CPI (M). The party expelled him in 2012 for attacking senior party leaders on support of Pranab Mukhejee’s presidential stint. The other writer Zico Dasgupta is a doctoral student in JNU and was presidential candidate of CPI (M) linked Students Federation of India (SFI) in 2012. So the political alignment of these writers clearly indicates that this article is written with politically motivated malafide intentions and preconceived notions.