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Will Use Aadhaar to Hunt for Benami Properties, Ready to Pay Political Price, Says PM Narendra Modi at HT Leadership Summit

Delivering the inaugural address at the 15th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in partnership with CNN-News18, PM Narendra Modi sketched out his vision for a financial system in which the possibilities of generating black money are being constantly reduced.


Updated:November 30, 2017, 7:02 PM IST

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reinforced the government’s sustained fight against black money, warning that strong action will be taken against benami properties drawing on the power of Aadhaar, and said he is ready to pay the “political price” for these measures.

Delivering the inaugural address at the 15th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in partnership with CNN-News18, Modi sketched out his vision for a robust financial system in which the possibilities of generating black money are being constantly reduced.

Modi offered the packed conference hall a strikingly comprehensive definition of his government’s reform agenda, affirming that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has ushered in a new financial era while the Aadhaar number has brought irreversible change in the country.

“Our biggest priority is to bring transparency based on sound policies that leaves little scope for error and leakages. Through these reforms, the government is helping secure rights and subsidies to the poor,” he declared to a big round of applause from the audience that included ministers, diplomats, bureaucrats, sportspersons and businessmen, among others.

Some of the government’s actions, such as GST and demonetisation, have been attacked by the Opposition parties. The Congress has actually made GST and demonetisation the central planks of its campaign in the approaching elections in Gujarat.

But Modi struck a defiant note in his speech, asserting that Indians voted (in 2014) to bring changes that were irreversible, permanent and far reaching.

“This change, new thinking, for many is inconceivable. After demonetisation, the behavioural change that has come in India…. you can feel it for yourself and black money that was (earlier) part of a parallel economy has become part of formal economy,” he declared, adding that for the first time after independence the corrupt are feeling the heat.

Modi repeatedly invoked examples of the results of the actions to drive home their success. On demonetisation, he said intentionally or otherwise, a treasure trove data has emerged, mining of which has unearthed information that more than 400-500 companies are being run from a single address. “Each company had opened up more than 2,000 bank accounts,” he said.

In all, Modi said, 1.25 lakh companies have been deregistered and their directors have been held responsible. “There are some big names in that list and they have been prevented from becoming directors in some other companies.”

The Prime Minister’s hour-long address was rooted in the government’s reform agenda, peppered with examples of changes the actions have ushered.

On Jan Dhan Yojana: “Earlier the poor person who was shooed away from banks now have their own bank accounts.”

On Ujjwala Yojana: “Women have only secured a free gas connection but also have health and time with their families.”

On Swach Bharat Mission: “The government not only created toilets, it has also relieved the pain of millions of daughters of the country who after dusk used to be under tremendous stress.”

He said these changes will “continue to go on”. “The whole system has to be changed, only then country gets from ease of doing business from 142 to 100,” referring to India's recent jump in World Bank rankings.

Modi also compared his government’s efforts with those of the previous government by reeling out statistics. LED bulbs during the previous government’s regime sold for Rs 300-350 while now it sells for Rs 50 for a middle class household, he said.

National Highway construction has doubled to 22 km a day now while 1.2 lakh km of roads have been constructed in the first three years of his government compared with 80,000 km during the last three years of the previous government, he added.

Modi who has been the driving force in India’s diplomatic push with several high-profile visits to countries such as the US, UK, Russia and Germany, also touched on the results of those efforts. India’s recent victory over the UK in securing a seat at the International Court of Justice has changed the world's outlook about India.

“Big or small, more countries in the world now want to stand and walk shoulder to shoulder with India.”

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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