The Finance Ministry on Friday said there is no official estimate of the amount of black money in the country or overseas. The government said it is still examining reports submitted by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, the National Council of Applied Economic Research and the National Institute of Financial Management.

This is not the first time that the government has admitted to not having any account of the amount of black money. On July 22 and May 3, it had made similar statements. Both times, it had said that it is scrutinising reports submitted by experts, and detailed the measures it had taken to take tax evaders to task.

This included the window it gave citizens to declare their undisclosed income, and international treaties it has negotiated to stop double tax exemptions. Finance Minister Jaitley on October 1, a day after the tax declaration scheme closed, had said that 64,275 people had declared assets worth Rs 65,250 crore.

However, Friday’s admission comes at a time when the government has declared Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes illegal tender, and defended the move’s crippling effects saying it will reduce the amount of black money in the country. The surprise decision to demonetise high-value currency has met massive criticism from Opposition parties, both inside and outside Parliament.

The Congress has accused the government of introducing “financial anarchy” in the country because of the sudden shortage of cash. However, the Reserve Bank of India has said there is enough cash in the country. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley questioned the opposition expressed by the Congress to the move and said the party had “vested interests”.

Ever since the demonetisation decision was announced on November 8, the Income Tax Department has conducted several raids in cities including Delhi and Mumbai. The department is also reportedly tracking large deposits being made at banks.