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3 Feb 2017

Bill plan for poll bond veil - Amendment to protectdonor's identity

Jayanta Roy Chowdhury, TT, New Delhi, Feb. 2: The Centre plans to introduce legislative changes shortly to give shape to the concept of electoral bonds that aim to cleanse the system of political funding, finance secretary Ashok Lavasa said here today.
Describing the electoral bonds as a "unique" experiment, Lavasa said: "Some legislative changes are needed to bring it into effect."
The government will need to amend the Representation of the People Act, which contains a proviso that says the names and addresses of all those who make political donations above Rs 20,000 will have to be furnished to the Election Commission.
The commission has since suggested that the limit on cash donations ought to be brought down to Rs 2,000 - a condition that the Modi government worked into the budget.
But that still leaves open the question about the anonymity of the donor. The government intends to amend the RPA to ensure the secrecy of the buyer of the electoral bond. The amendment will simply state that the name of the donor need not be mentioned in the bearer bond to conceal the identity of the donor.
The government had yesterday announced in the budget that cash contributions to political parties will be limited to Rs 2,000 and that contributions above that can either be through cheques or electronic transfers or by way of anonymous bonds which can be legitimately bought and then given to any political party of a firm's or individual's choice.
"This is how it will work: a scheduled bank will be authorised to issue the electoral bonds. Anyone who wishes to contribute to election funding can buy the bonds with legitimate funds. It can then be contributed to any recognised political party's designated account," Lavasa said.
The government will soon notify the banks that will be eligible to issue these bonds and come out with the operational guidelines by March.
Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia told PTI that political parties would lose their tax exemption status if they fail to file their income tax returns by December 31 for any assessment year.
"More than 50 per cent of the parties do not file their returns in time," Adhia said.
If they lose the exemption, political parties will have to pay tax at the rate of 30 per cent.

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