Usually reticent and mild-mannered NAFCUB President Jyotindra Mehta has reacted strongly to Income Tax department approach towards urban cooperative banks, in which the agency seems to indicate that UCBs become a fountainhead of illegal cash-dealings during elections.
“As a cooperator, I would say that any wrongdoer must be punished, be it co-op Bank or be it Private Sector Bank, PSU Bank or NBFC. But, this type of comment to single out Co-Op Banks is beyond the limit of tolerance”, Mehta asserted.
Commenting on the press conference addressed by Kishore Vyawahare, Director General of Income Tax (DGIT) on the issue Mehta said “This shows immaturity on the part of I T authorities. If they are aware of this as a natural Law Enforcer they should not have alerted the wrongdoers by convening Press Conference”.
It bears recall that Income Tax department has geared itself against movement of cash in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and DG of Income Tax revealed the dept’s preparedness for the same recently in Mumbai.
DG said that he is aware of the fact that some of the cooperative banks and cooperative societies in the State are going to indulge in unaccounted cash dealings in this election and we are determined to check it.
Drawing Income Tax dept attention to the ground realities NAFCUB President said “ All big scandals have taken place in either PSU Banks or Pvt. Banks. Thousands of crores of rupees have been allowed to be siphoned off through the likes of Nirav Modis or Mallyas.
Mehta added that Co-Operative Banks are very small in nature and they cannot have cash beyond a certain limit. Out of 1560 UCBs 60% of them are either Unit Banks of Tier One Banks. Their total Deposits range from 2 crore to 100 crore. IT people have to first understand the structure and size of UCBs.
Earlier, Indian Cooperative carried a story narrating how Co-op banks and co-op credit societies were aghast at the Income Tax Department’s efforts to paint all co-ops with the same brush. “There are hundreds of financial institutions including NBFCs which indulge in unaccounted cash-dealings and singling out co-operatives in this context is not fair”, chorused cooperators.
If anything UCBs’ financial parameters including NPAs are much better compared to commercial and private banks”, cooperators sought to remind the DG of Income Tax.
The IT dept has, meanwhile, decided to set up a 24×7 control room to receive credible actionable information from the general public on the illegal use of cash and other valuables. It has also published a toll-free number (1800221510) and a landline number (022-22820562) where anyone can lodge a complaint. “We would also reward the people who provide us with credible info”, said the official quotes PIB.
The DG said that the dept has also involved more than 200 tax officials and is engaging with other states and central agencies on the issue. Besides, it has also stationed a quick response team (QRT) in some of the districts in the state. The focus is on movement of cash exceeding Rs 10 lakh.
The official said that the Air Intelligence Unit of the tax authority has also been stationed at all air bases in Mumbai to keep a strict vigil on any movement of cash.