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January 3, 1998


VDIS nets Rs 100 billion: Chidambaram

The much-publicised Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme -- VDIS -- has netted a whopping Rs 100.50 billion as tax revenue from 466,031 assessees declaring undisclosed assets of Rs 33 billion.

Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said the people have responded well to his 'philosophy' that ''given a fair and a reasonable chance most people in India would like to come clean''.

The scheme, which was launched in July, closed on December 31.

Encouraged by the overwhelming response to the VDIS, Chidambaram said the five per cent cut in Plan expenditure announced on September 16 would be restored.

The minister also announced a second revenue raising exercise with the launch of a campaign on Monday under which those meeting two out of four criteria -- owning a car, house, cell phone/phone, travel abroad -- would be advised to file their income tax returns.

In the first phase of this drive, more than 600,000 cellular phone owners and several thousand farmhouse owners would be targetted, the finance minister said. The income tax authorities have issued notices to farmhouse owners in Bombay, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad and Madras. More notices would be sent in the coming days, asking them to file their returns by February 28.

He said the government has full records of the cellular phone owners and farmhouse owners.''We know their city-wise records. There is no place they can hide and I will advise all cell phone owners to file their returns.''

Chidambaram said because of the definitional problem, there is no exact number of farmhouses in the country. But the government had a fairly good idea of these farmhouses. ''We think the amount invested in these farmhouses has been understated,'' he added.

The minister said the key to the VDIS success was the lower rates of return and the confidentiality assured to assessees. Once the message went across that the tax rates had touched the rock bottom they came in the net, he said.

The finance ministry has issued instructions to all income tax commissioners to put the VDIS papers in packages which will be sealed. ''These seals cannot be opened under any circumstances,'' the minister said, adding that the declarations would not be opened even for monitoring the future behaviour of VDIS declarants.


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