PAC seeks details of UPA era 80:20 gold scheme

RSTV Bureau
File photo: Representative image.

File photo: Representative image.

Finance Ministry officials are likely to share all details related to the 80:20 gold import scheme with Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), according to reports. The move comes after BJP members of the panel alleged it was misused by jewellers including Mehul Choksi for money laundering.

At a meeting of the committee last week, BJP members of the PAC had zeroed in on former finance minister P Chidambaram, under whose tenure the government’s 80:20 gold import scheme was launched.

The Congress-led UPA government, in August 2013, had introduced the 80:20 rule, under which the traders was allowed to import gold only after they had exported 20 per cent of gold from their previous import. The rule was scrapped in November 2014 after the NDA came to power.

The Revenue Secretary and top officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had appeared before the PAC’s sub-committee headed by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey.

During the meeting, the members had directed the officials to share all notings related to the scheme with the panel. These are likely to be shared within a week, a source said.

At the meeting last week, the PAC members discussed a CAG report of 2016 which, they said, pointed out that the scheme resulted in a loss of over Rs 1 lakh crore to the exchequer, a source who was present at the meeting said on the condition of anonymity.

They also raised questions about then finance minister P Chidambaram, under whose tenure the scheme was launched, and said even the CAG report had said to support the earning of one US dollar (around Rs 60 then) for jewellers, the government had to bear the expenditure in the form of duty foregone of Rs 221.75.

The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General clearly indicated that the scheme was used by jewellers including Choksi for “round tripping of black money and money laundering”, Dubey had said at the meeting, claiming that it seemed P Chidambaram was aware of this.

The CBI has alleged that Choksi and his jeweller nephew Nirav Modi defrauded the Punjab National Bank of around Rs 12,636 crore. Both left the country in January.

(With inputs from PTI)