Government working to get information on black money: President

Government working to get information on black money: President

The government had taken steps to open channels for wider information on black money from foreign countries, President Pratibha Patil said Monday and stressed that automated delivery of public services with minimum human intervention was a key step towards reducing corruption.

In her address to the joint session of parliament at the beginning of budget session, the president said the unique AADHAAR (brand name of unique identification number) scheme would help improve service delivery, accountability, and transparency in social sector programmes.

The president, whose speech faced brief disruptions, listed the measures taken to curb black money. The issue of corruption and black money, which has dominated public discourse for over a year, found mention in the beginning of her speech.

She said the government has initiated action on enactment of Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act and had commissioned studies to assess quantum of black money both inside and outside the country.

“We are taking many steps to contain the generation and outflow of illicit funds from the country and for opening channels for getting information on black money from other countries,” the president said.

She said more than 97,000 common service centres had been established under the national e-governance programme for making public services conveniently available to citizens. She said electronic services delivery bill had been introduced in parliament.

"Efficient and automated delivery of public services with minimum human intervention is one of the keys to reducing corruption.... Departments responsible for income tax, passports, central excise and corporate affairs have started delivering online services...Increasingly, public services under all e-governance projects will be delivered through internet and mobile phones," she said and added that new e-governance projects in education, health, public distribution and postal services will be launched.

Referring to measures to fight corruption, Patil said legislations, including Lokpal and
Lokayukta bill, whistleblowers protection bill, the prevention of bribery of foreign public officials bill, citizens's rights to grievances bill and judicial standards and accountability bill, had been introduced in Parliament.

She said India had also ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption and a comprehensive public procurement law was being formulated.

“Together these have the potential of bringing about a transformational change in curbing corruption and enhancing transparency and accountability in governance,” she said.

The president said the National Mission for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms had already been set up.

The president, who came to parliament in the traditional ceremonial procession, said the budget session marked the halfway mark of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

“I hope the session will be productive and useful,” she said.