Govt on right track on black money says Modi; Jaitley cautions on disclosures

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reiterated his resolve to retrieve the black money stashed abroad by Indians despite the constraints of bilateral tax treaties. He, however, acknowledged that there was no correct estimate of the amount of black money held by Indians in foreign bank accounts, but said the government's efforts to retrieve the money stashed away are ''right on track.''

Sharing his thoughts with citizens in his "Mann Ki Baat" programmme on Sunday over the All India Radio for the second time, the prime minister said it was natural in a democracy that there could be different views on how to approach the issue, but he wished to assure the people, on the basis of the information currently available with him, that the government was on the right track.

He said bringing back black money from outside the country is an "article of faith" for him and nothing will be lacking in his efforts to do so.

The prime minister's assertions to bring back black money stashed abroad comes against the backdrop of the government's stand in the Supreme Court about the inability to disclose the names of the account holders in foreign banks because of the confidentiality clause in treaties with other countries (See: Black money case: Modi govt too refuses to disclose names of account holders).

The government had maintained that disclosure of details of account holders would hamper efforts to bring back black money.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley, meanwhile, lashed out at those, including the opposition Congress party, who want the government to reveal the names of black money holders, warning that unauthorised disclosure of such names can sabotage investigation and benefit the guilty.

"An unauthorised disclosure of information is fraught with both investigation and economic consequences. They can sabotage the investigation. They can attract sanctions in the form of withholding taxes," he said in a Facebook post even as the prime minister asserted that all efforts would be made to bring back black money stashed abroad.

"The Congress party's stand is understandable. It does not want evidence to be forthcoming in support of the names available with SIT. Are some others ill informed, just indulging in bravado or are they Trojan horses?", Jaitley asked.

He said the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which has been entrusted by the Supreme Court with the investigation, will succeed in bringing out the truth and said the NDA government had made available all the names in its possession to the SIT on 27 June 2014 itself.

"The NDA government has had an exemplary record in this matter... It will continue to support the SIT fully and unequivocally in search of truth," Jaitley said.

The choice before the government was between unauthorised disclosure and disclosure as per treaties, he said, adding that the latter is both a fair and beneficial proposition.

"It will help in collection of evidence and exposure of a wrong doing in accordance with law and fair procedure. A disclosure without evidence would ensure that evidence is never available," he added.

The prime minister, in his address to the nation on the radio, said he was happy that people from all walks of life have begun to express willingness to take responsibility for social issues.

He said no one could have imagined that the Swachha Abhiyaan would become such a mass movement. He said good results are already visible, adding there are two aspects of this matter. The first is how the existing dirt can be removed. But the second, equally important aspect is how people are now enthused to say that henceforth, they will not do anything that spreads dirt. The children too are now aware about cleanliness, he said.

Modi expressed satisfaction that people from all walks of life who come to meet him - government officials, sports persons, cine-stars, businessmen, scientists etc – talk about taking responsibility for social issues. The prime minister said he sees this as a big change.

He praised the ministry of human resource development for coming up with two innovative schemes for specially-abled children. The first is: one thousand scholarships for specially-abled children to pursue technical education. The second is a grant of one lakh rupees each to all Kendriya Vidyalayas and all central universities for creating appropriate infrastructure for the specially abled.

The prime minister also expressed happiness that sales of Khadi had more than doubled since his last radio address, when he had suggested to people to keep one khadi garment at home.

The prime minister invited suggestions from people on how to tackle the menace of drug abuse among the younger generation. He said he would talk about this subject in his next radio address.

An active citizen is the biggest strength of development, he said, while encouraging people to communicate with him.