India’s billionaire banker, has questioned the country’s finance minister about the future of an opaque political financing tool. Questions about electoral bonds have increased after the election watchdog last week told the Supreme Court that anonymous donations have serious repercussions on the transparency of political funding.
According to a report by Association for Democratic Reforms for the six national parties, excluding the Communist Party of India (Marxist), 53% of funding in 2017-18 or Rs 689.44 crore, was from unknown sources.
The Centre and the EC took contrary stands in the Supreme Court. Centre wants to maintain anonymity of the donors of electoral bonds. Poll panel batting for revealing the names of donors for transparency.
Plea has been filed in SC by Association of Democratic Reforms- either the issuance of electoral bonds be stayed or the names of the donors be made public to ensure transparency in the poll process.
The Centre told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the electoral bond scheme was meant to “eradicate black money in political funding” and the anonymity of donors is to be maintained for various reasons such as fear of repercussions on a firm if the other political party or group wins.
The Election Commission (EC), represented by senior lawyer Rakesh Dwivedi, opposed Centre’s submissions and said secrecy allowed in the electoral bonds scheme “legalizes anonymity”.
The government amended various laws including the Income Tax Act, the Representation of Peoples Act, the Finance Act and the Companies Act and came out with the scheme for electoral bonds, which are in the nature of bearer instruments capable of being purchased by a citizen or a company from a PSU bank.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Free Items
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said, Politicians need to think beyond populism, free power and loan waiver schemes are not long-term solutions to farmers’ woes. The statement assumes significance as political parties are making big promises to woo voters in the ongoing elections. We have to see that we supplement the infrastructure we provide opportunities of better market, timely affordable and cheaper credit available to the farmer. These are the long-term solutions. Policy makers of the country have to think on these lines.
On rising non-performing assets (NPAs) in the banking system, he said, it is a great concern as the problem has certainly affected banks’ capacity to lend. Banks have to maintain strict vigilance during pre- and post-sanction procedures of loans and constantly strengthen their internal processes to effectively monitor funds and maintain discipline in lending. In the last few years, the percentage of total loans increased from nearly 2 per cent of total loans on 2008 to nearly 10 percent in 2017. We must also re-look at the practice of financing big-tickets projects.
He opined that bank can make use of technology and data analytics and India must enter into more treaties for exchange of information and intelligence on financial fraud and bank accounts and work with international agencies in bringing defaulters to justice.