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Steps taken to check corruption: Modi

New Delhi, Nov 18 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said his government has taken “significant steps to check corruption and the menace of black money in a short span of time”.

Speaking at the inauguration of the sixth Global Focal Point Conference (GFPC) on Asset Recovery, and the 21st Annual Conference of CBI and State Anti-Corruption Bureaus here at Vigyan Bhavan, he said: “Our government is committed to making bureaucracy more efficient, performance-oriented and accountable.”

“We, in India, are currently in a crucial phase of nation building. Our mission is to build a prosperous India,” he said, adding it was essential to fight relentlessly against corruption and the government was unsparing in punishing the corrupt.

Extending a warm welcome to over 100 delegates from 50 countries on the occasion, Modi said: “Corruption is one of the principal challenges to that objective.”

“Governments across the world work to transform the lives of the poor and the marginalised. This is not an impossible mission… to achieve this objective, it is essential to fight relentlessly against corruption,” he said.

Stating that India stands committed in its fight against corruption, Modi said: “The very day that we assumed office, we constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the supervision of the Supreme Court to look into the issue.

“We have entered into agreements with many countries for exchanging real time information on black money,” he said, adding the government has signed the Inter Government Agreement with the US to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

He told the audience that “the agreement enables Indian tax authorities to receive financial account information of Indians from foreign countries on an automatic basis”.

Modi also said a comprehensive and deterrent law, the Black Money Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets and Imposition of Tax Act has been enacted that “provides for stringent penalties and prosecution”.

He hoped the partnership between Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) and Interpol will help in confiscation and recovery of stolen assets.

Stating that his government recently took steps to curb systemic corruption such as in auction of coal blocks and FM Radio spectrum and eliminated the discretion element in national resources’ allocation, he said: “It has also generated substantial revenues for the government which will benefit our people.”

Modi said the National Democratic Alliance government’s move to credit gas subsidy directly into consumers’ bank accounts, with each account being linked to the Aadhaar card, “reduced the number of registered consumers claiming gas subsidy by about 50 million”.

“We also launched a campaign for the ‘well off’ to voluntarily give up cooking gas subsidy… As on date, more than 4.5 million people have given up their gas subsidy.” he said.

On the Paris terror attacks, Modi said: “The dastardly acts committed in Paris a few days ago are a grim reminder that terrorists have shown remarkable flexibility and adaptability in meeting their funding requirements.”

Stating that “disrupting fund flows constrains the capabilities of terrorists and reduces their ability to execute attacks”, Modi said confiscation of property of offenders not only serves as punishment but also discourages commission of crime.

The prime minister said though investigation agencies were limited by national boundaries, his government was committed to the implementation of a uniform global standard on Automatic Exchange of Information on a fully reciprocal basis.

He said the new Interpol notice ‘Silver Notice’ could add value to asset-tracing investigations and facilitate real time information sharing in complex cases.

Interpol’s Secretary General Jurgen Stock, minister of state Jitendra Singh and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Anil Sinha were also present during the meet.

Modi also presented the President’s Police Medals for Distinguished Service to 11 CBI officers