Expressing concern over unregulated virtual digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi on Friday said the government should come out with legislation soon to prevent their misuse for purposes such as terror financing and drug smuggling.
The government is still sending mixed signals on virtual digital assets and there should be clarity on the definition of crypto, he said while initiating a debate on the Finance Bill in Lok Sabha. It is not clear if it is an asset, currency or something that can be speculated upon, he said. Gogoi further said that the government should take a view on this so that virtual digital assets do not become a preferred route for money laundering, drug smuggling or crime.
“I expect the policy to come out sooner than later…crypto is a risk at the moment,” he said. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier moved the Finance Bill for 2022-23 for consideration. On the stock market, Gogoi said there are a lot of unregulated commercials on the social media that are luring people to invest in shares. It is another bubble waiting to burst, he said, adding that the government should take this also into account.
Observing that every government wants to widen the tax base, he said high networth individuals (HNIs) are the biggest contributor to revenue mobilisation. There has been an exodus of 7,000 HNIs from India since 2019, he said. He wondered what is the ecosystem that the country is offering to wealth creators. On fuel price hike, Gogoi said it has been increased for the third time in one week and added the government should maintain status quo to provide relief to common people who have just come out from the third wave of COVID-19.
“They need a chance to conduct their businesses in a free and fair atmosphere, not always under the burden of high inflation and high fuel prices. And it is a bit ironic as to the answer that the government or its spokespersons are giving on fuel prices, they are saying that the fuel prices are bound to happen (increase) because of the conflict in Ukraine,” he said. The Ukraine conflict did not begin last week, he said, adding it has been going on since December and Russian troops were on border for more than a month.
“For one month, they could keep the prices stable. What has changed now?…Just because (five state assembly) elections are over. That’s how you repay the people who put you back to power,” he said. He also said that fiscally India is not in a good position and both states and the Centre are heavily debt ridden.
“Jingoism is the only antidote that this government is offering to the poor whether there is record unemployment, whether there is high inequality, and when there is inflation. People are expected to really put all their faith in the leader (prime minister),” he said. Supriya Sule of the NCP demanded a ban on cyrpto, saying various committee have suggested so. She questioned the imposition of 30 per cent tax on capital gain out of virtual digital assets even when there is no legislation on that.