New Delhi: In the midst of mounting pressure to unearth black money, the government on Sunday announced it has commissioned an in-depth study to quantify unaccounted income and wealth stashed within and outside the country in 16 months.

"So far, there are no reliable estimates of black money generated and held within and outside the country," the Finance Ministry, which commissioned the study, said.

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The study will also suggest ways to detect and prevent unaccounted money, bringing it into the tax net.

The study, which commenced in March, is being carried out by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCEAR), National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM).

The country's three top level institutions would also profile the activities used for money-laundering and identify the causes of black money and the sectors in which it is generated.

First study in 1985

The first study on unaccounted money was conducted by NIPFP way back in 1985.

The ministry said that the estimates, which are not reliable, vary from USD 462 billion to USD 1.4 trillion.     

The government has also constituted a committee of high- level officials, including the chief of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), to suggest a legal framework for confiscating such wealth by declaring it as "national assets".

The Government had earlier also constituted a committee, comprising heads of various probe agencies and specialized departments, to monitor the investigation and initiate steps to bring back black money stashed in tax havens.

Earlier, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that the Government has adopted a five pronged strategy, including legislative reforms, to deal with the menace of black money.

(Agencies)