Prime Minister Narendra Modi was determined to make India `Swachh Bharat’ in terms of “tan (body), man (mind) and dhan (money)” and demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes was a part of this mission, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said here today.
“The PM wants every citizen to be pure not only in thoughts but in action too, and this is why he has given the mantra of reform, perform and transform,” Naidu said, adding that demonetisation would help the country fight corruption, terrorism, smuggling, drug menace and other social ills.
Outlining the initiatives taken by the Modi Government to curb black money, he said, “This decision was not taken overnight. On the first day of his government, Modi constituted an SIT and then made several agreements with other countries including Mauritius and Cyprus which are considered as tax havens (to curb black money).”
Naidu was here to pay tribute to the BJP leader Jaywantiben Mehta who recently passed away.
He termed the demonetisation of high-value currency as “historic and game-changing” measure, aimed at tackling the menace of black money and corruption.
“Economy is expected to grow at 7.5 per cent. Other macro-economic indicators are looking much better now. The FDI inflows have increased by 29 per cent during April 2015-March 2016 to reach USD 40 billion compared to the same period last year. Foreign exchange reserves stood at USD 367.14 billion in the week upto October 2016, while retail inflation was at 4.31 per cent in September, lowest in 13 months. The agriculture is expected to grow at four per cent this fiscal,” Naidu said.
The Prime Minister wanted to take advantage of this favourable situation and give the benefit to the poor and ordinary people by taking tough measures to unearth the black money, the minister said, adding that people were happy with his decision.
Naidu admitted that people were facing hassles and long queues (for swapping the old currency), but termed them as “teething problems” which would be streamlined soon.
There should be separate queues for senior citizens and women at the banks for depositing or exchanging the money, Naidu said.
“We constituted a special investigating team headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to bring large amounts of black money stashed abroad and to effectively deal with undisclosed income. Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, came into effect on July 1, 2015,” he said, talking about NDA government’s measures to unearth the black money.
Other measures included constitution of Multi-Agency Group into Panama Paper leaks, joining global efforts to combat tax evasion and black money by signing Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement in respect of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEIO) and having an information sharing arrangement with the US under its Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), he said.
India entered into Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) with several countries, including tax havens like Mauritius and Cyprus and an Automatic Exchange of Information Agreement was also negotiated with Switzerland to clamp down on black money, Naidu said.
Demonetisation would provide a fillip to formal economy, improve tax collection, open up opportunities for poor and middle classes, badly hit funding for arms smuggling, espionage and terrorism, put an end to large circulation of counterfeit currency, result in reducing inflation and bring down the real estate prices and bring higher education and healthcare within the reach of people, he said.
Downplaying the statement of Uddhav Thackeray, chief of BJP’s ally Shiv Sena, who said that demonetisation was leading to “torture” of people and Modi should first target the Swiss banks to bring back the black money, Naidu said it could be Uddhav’s personal assessment, but the countrymen were rejoicing.