New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the G20 anti-corruption ministers’ meeting in Kolkata by saying, “Elimination of corruption is the sacred duty of the government to the people.”
Welcoming dignitaries to Nobel laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s city in Kolkata, Prime Minister Modi said it was the first G20 anti-corruption ministerial meeting. Referring to Tagore’s writings, the Prime Minister warned against greed. Because it prevents us from realizing the truth. He also quoted the ancient Indian Upanishads which strive for ‘Ma Krita’ which means ‘not to be greedy’.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the poor and marginalized people bear the highest impact of corruption. It affects resource utilization, distorts markets, affects service delivery and ultimately reduces people’s quality of life, he added. Referring to Kautilya in Arthasastra, the Prime Minister said it is the duty of the government to develop the resources of the state and maximize the welfare of its people. He stressed the need to fight against corruption to achieve this goal, adding that it is the government’s sacred duty to the people.
Stating that India has a strict “zero tolerance for corruption” policy, the Prime Minister pointed out that India is using technology and e-governance to create a transparent and accountable ecosystem.
He also mentioned that leakages and gaps in public welfare schemes and government schemes are being repaired. As a result, millions of people in India have direct benefit transfers of over $360 billion in their bank accounts. The Prime Minister said that this has helped to save more than 33 billion dollars.
Stating that the government has simplified various procedures for businesses, the Prime Minister highlighted the automation and digitization of government services that have eliminated opportunities for rent seeking. “Our Government e-Market or GEM (GEM) platform has brought greater transparency in government procurement”, he said.
Talking about the enactment of the Anti-Economic Offenders Act in 2018, the Prime Minister said that the government is aggressively pursuing economic offenders and recovering assets worth more than $1.8 billion from economic offenders and fugitives. He also cited the Anti-Money Laundering Act, which since 2014 has helped freeze the assets of criminals worth more than $12 billion.
The prime minister recalled that in his first G-20 summit address in 2014, he spoke to all G20 countries and the Global South about the challenges of fugitive economic criminals. He also mentioned that the G-20 summit in 2018 presented a nine-point agenda for action against fugitive economic criminals and asset recovery.
He also expressed happiness that decisive steps are being taken by the task force. The Prime Minister welcomed the high-level policies on action in the three priority areas of law enforcement cooperation through information sharing, strengthening asset recovery mechanisms and improving the integrity and effectiveness of anti-corruption authorities.
He expressed happiness that an understanding has been reached on informal cooperation between law enforcement agencies, which will prevent criminals from using legal loopholes when crossing borders. Highlighting the importance of timely asset tracing and identification of proceeds of crime, the Prime Minister stressed the need to encourage countries to improve their domestic asset recovery mechanisms.
Modi suggested that the G20 countries could set an example by using impunity seizures to speed up the recovery of foreign assets. He also said it would ensure speedy return and extradition of criminals after due court process. “This will send a strong signal about our collective fight against corruption,” he asserted.
The Prime Minister stressed that joint efforts of the G20 countries in the fight against corruption can significantly support and make a huge difference through improved international cooperation and implementation of strong measures to address the root causes of corruption. Modi also highlighted the role of auditing firms in the fight against corruption.
He urged dignitaries to strengthen our administrative and legal systems and foster a culture of ethics and integrity in value systems. “Only by doing so, we can lay the foundation for a just and sustainable society. I wish you all a constructive and successful meeting,” PM Modi concluded the speech.