We recently concluded the 2016 G20 summit in the city of Hangzhou in China (4th & 5th September), which in fact was the first ever G20 summit to be hosted by our regional neighbour, China (and the second in Asia). While addressing the participating countries on the second day of the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi aggressively spoke about the issue of financial corruption.
Urging the member nations to adopt a tougher (and cooperative) stance on the issue of elimination of “safe havens” for economic offenders, Prime Minister Modi said “fighting corruption, black money and tax evasion were central to effective financial governance…we need to act to eliminate safe havens for economic offenders, track down and unconditionally extradite money launderers and break down the web of complex international regulations and excessive banking secrecy that hide the corrupt and their deeds.”
This, in fact, is a testament to Modi’s continued hard stance on the issue of black money stashed abroad. Hence, it is no wonder then that India in fact has slipped to 75th position in terms of money being held by its citizens in Swiss bank accounts. This is indeed encouraging for in 2007 (during the UPA regime), India featured amongst the top 50 countries in terms of its holdings in Swiss banks. [Note: Of course, this is not to say that the ever-vigilant media had no role to play when it came to unearthing the scams and bringing the issue of black money to the forefront. However, the media only serves as a mirror and it is the person at the helm of affairs who needs to see and alter the reflection. Thus, for now, let us simply concentrate on the Indian political will.]
Furthermore, the Indian Prime Minister has further warned tax evaders and financial offenders to declare their ‘undeclared’ assets by 30th September, failing which they will become liable for strict and stern action. The promise of stern action in fact is already in full force, which is evident from the fact that there has been a phenomenal rise in the number of income tax raids across the country, beating all records of the last five years and witnessing a steep increase of 300% in just a span of seven months in 2016.
Needless to say, Prime Minister Modi’s continued drive to bring back the black money from abroad and also to unearth the black money stashed within the country gives us hope that the country may witness a further drop in money laundering. That alone should bring peaceful sleep to the hardworking and honest citizenry of the nation, while the corrupt can continue to simmer and boil, waiting for the Prime Minister to come knocking on their doors. For those corrupt souls…I have a personal message: ‘It’s time to pay up’!!!