Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that it was a “sovereign right” of the central government to impose taxes on cryptocurrency transactions. She was replying to the Rajya Sabha on the general discussion on the Union Budget.

While commenting on profits made from cryptocurrency transactions, the finance minister said: “[Whether it is] legitimate or illegitimate, it is a different question, but I will tax because it is a sovereign right to tax.”

In the Union Budget for the financial year 2022-’23, presented on February 1, Sitharaman had announced a 30% tax on income made from the transfer of digital assets. This tax will apply to cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens.

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are blockchain technology-supported digital files such as photos, videos, and audio, that can be traded using cryptocurrencies.

On Friday, Sitharaman also told Parliament that a decision on whether to ban private cryptocurrencies will be taken based on consultations with stakeholders. On November 23, an official document on the Winter Session of Parliament showed the Union government will introduce a Bill to ban all private cryptocurrencies in India.

However, the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill has not been placed in the House yet. In her Budget speech, Sitharaman announced that the Reserve Bank of India will issue a new digital rupee using blockchain and other technologies during the financial year 2022-’23.

Congress misused MGNREGA, says Sitharaman

In her speech on Friday, Sitharaman blamed the Congress for misusing the rural employment initiative launched under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, or MGNREGA. She said that the during the Congress’ regime at the Centre, the scheme was “infested with ghost accounts”.

“Take the entire credit for the misuse of MGNREGA...We use the scheme transparently and properly,” she said.

The finance minister reiterated her claim from her speech on February 1, that the Union Budget was presented with a vision for the next 25 years.

“If we don’t have a vision for India at 100 [years after Independence], we will suffer similarly as first 70 years, when 65 years were with Congress [at the Centre] that had no vision except supporting, building and benefitting one family,” Sitharaman said in the Rajya Sabha.