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'Advani's 100-day plan a smokescreen'

April 18, 2009 14:57 IST

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday described BJP leader L K Advani's 100-day plan to bring back illegal money stashed in foreign tax havens as a "smokescreen" and wondered whether he was "unwittingly" alerting those who have deposits outside.

In a hard hitting reaction to the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate's statement issued in Mumbai on Friday, he said: "I am afraid that Mr Advani's 100-day plan looks to me like a smokescreen. I wonder whether he is unwittingly alerting those who have deposits abroad to re-arrange their affairs in the next four weeks before a new government is sworn in."

He told PTI, "I am afraid Mr Advani is doing more harm than good by repeatedly raising this issue, especially when he has been informed about the efforts being made by the government."

Chidambaram said that the government has made "significant" progress in acquiring information from the German Central Tax Office.

"I am not at liberty to disclose the progress made because there are still some procedural formalities required by the German Tax Office," he adding at appropriate time, he was sure the Indian government would be able to release the information that would be obtained from the German Tax Office.

Chidambaram said that Advani continued to "mystify" the issues relating to capital flying out of the country. He said no one denied that over the years some people have illegally taken money out of the country and kept it in banks and other places, which were protected by strong laws relating to bank secrecy.

The latest of Advani, he said, was the report of a so-called high level task force.

"I am afraid the report of the Task Force is no more than the rehashing of already known information to which they have added some ingenious arithmetic. I do not think any credibility can be attached to the numbers contained in the report."

The actual number, Chidambaram said, may be higher or may be lower. The real point was what has the government done and can the government do to unearth these illegal deposits abroad.
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