PM hints at further steps to root out black money

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his government would announce more steps to root out black money after the deadline for exchange of demonetised Rs1,000 and Rs500 notes ends on 30 December.

"Some people think after December 30 (nothing more will happen) but I want to announce there is no guarantee that there won't be any other measure to take (dishonest) people to task," PM Modi said during an interaction with the Indian community in Japan.

"My government will do everything to protect the honest, but the dishonest have to account for themselves," the PM said, adding that he intended to level the playing field. "Chori ka maal nikalna chahiye ki nahin? (Shouldn't we squeeze out those illgotten wealth?)," he asked.

Since the demonetisation of high-value notes, Modi said, real money – those deposited by the salaried and women is coming into circulation. These were helpless cash against the big cash hoards of the wealthy and the unscrupulous, he added.

The drive against unaccounted wealth could continue. "Bina hisaab ka agar kuch aaya haath, uska desh ke azad hua tab se aaj tak ka hisaab check karne wala hoon (If something unaccounted comes to light, I will check accounts from Independence till now)," he said.

Modi admitted that the demonetisation of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes had caught many unawares and caused hardship to the common people, but that, he said, was needed as without the secrecy, the initiative would have flopped and hoarders would have escaped the net.

"Those who can collect so much also know how to get rid of it. This was needed to build a bright future for India," he said.

The PM said he felt encouraged by popular support despite disruption and inconvenience. "People have rallied around just as the people of Japan did in 2011 (after the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster)," he said. Modi said honest people would welcome the government's moves while those who had underestimated his resolve had themselves to blame. "This was not sudden. We had a scheme for disclosure that yielded Rs 65,000 crore. With other initiatives we got Rs 1.25 lakh crore," he said.