sitharaman: “ED is completely independent in what it does,” FM Sitharaman on ED allegedly being used as political tool

Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday (local time) defended the actions of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on private capital and civil societies and negated that it is being used as a political weapon.

At a media briefing on her official US visit, she said, “ED is completely independent in what it does, it is an agency that follows predicate offences.”

Answering to question on the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department that these institutions have been used to go after sections of private capital but also civil societies, she said, “The first offence is already picked up by any other agency, whether it is CBI or any other agency and it is forced that ED comes into the picture. ED does not appear at first instance. There are instances which are so standing out and if ED goes there, it is because of some prima facie evidence in their hands and some of them have been covered by media – the quantum of money seized, gold and jewellery seized. They have to act.”

She also spoke about G20 challenges due to geopolitical tensions – and how India plans to navigate this environment.

“We had discussions with many G20 members, and during the meetings, the concern about this whole year – Indonesia has gone through a very difficult Presidency, even in this meeting I can say, none of the meetings – the Washington DC, G20 FMCGB couldn’t come up with the communique at all. All of them ended up coming up with some chair statement. I really applaud the officials of all delegations for the night-long work they have done to arrive at something. But, still, the communique was not possible at all,” she said.

Speaking about India’s Presidency of G20, she said, “We are taking Presidentship at a time when there are a lot of challenges, we will have to work together with the membership to see how best we can navigate the whole thing.”

FM Nirmala Sitharaman held 24 bilaterals in the US during her official visit to America.

“There were 24 bilaterals, one, of course, was FMCGB, in formal breakfast which we had held, then FMCGB itself of G20, one IMFC breakfast, one IMFC plenary, one DC dinner, one disciplinary and of course meeting with Indian industries and SBI meet, then FICCI representative met me. Separately, of course, the Indian Ambassador held a host meet where some of the prominent policymakers of the US administration were there. Besides, it’s important to recognize that the secretaries and the Chief Economic Advisor have held 25 meetings with their counterparts and one on one meetings with credit rating agencies. Additional Secretary Rajat Mishra attended the annual plenary,” said Sitharaman.

She also met World Bank President David Malpass in Washington today. The two leaders discussed various issues, including India’s #G20 Presidency, improving capital adequacy framework oF MDBs, addressing debt vulnerabilities and enhancing WBG’s engagement with India through Knowledge Exchange and MIGA.

“Finance Minister Smt. @nsitharaman thanked Mr. @DavidMalpassWBG for a productive Development Committee meeting and support to India over the last two years especially in increasing the Single Borrower Limit,” tweeted the Ministry of Finance.

The Finance Minister mentioned that World Bank has been a valuable partner of the G20 since its inception and India looks forward to closing collaboration with the World Bank during the upcoming G20Presidency.

Meanwhile, impressed by the quick and deep penetration of the Government of India’s financial inclusion and digitalisation initiatives among the poor, Malpass assured Sitharaman of showcasing this to other FMs as a way for governments to help their poor leapfrog in these challenging times.

FM Sitharaman also mentioned that during its Presidency, India would like the G20 to explore the potential for MDBs to enhance climate financing through leveraging and intermediating resources.

She also met Mohamed Al Hussaini, UAE’s Minister of State for Financial Affairs, on the sidelines of the IMF-WB Annual Meetings 2022.

The two leaders exchanged views on the upcoming G20 India Presidency, UAE’s CoP28 Chair, climate finance, and other areas of mutual interest.

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