Widely acclaimed as a bright spot in the global economy, India’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals have created a platform for sustained growth, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday. In his customary address to the joint sitting of Parliament, he also highlighted various policy initiative taken by the government to prevent tax evasion and deal with menace of black money.
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“India has been widely acclaimed as a bright spot in the global economy, at a time when global growth has been slow. The rate of inflation, the balance of payments, current account deficit and the fiscal deficit have been consistently reduced since 2014,” he said. Foreign direct investment and foreign exchange reserves have reached record levels, he said, adding that FDI inflows in 2015-16 were $55.6 billion, the highest-ever for any financial year, and India is ranked third in the list of top prospective host economies for 2016-18 in the World Investment Report 2016 released by UNCTAD.
The government has further liberalised FDI policy provisions in various sectors in June 2016, he said. “The country’s macroeconomic fundamentals are very strong, creating a platform for sustained high growth,” he said. To combat the evils of black-money, corruption, counterfeit currency and terror financing, he said, “my government took the decision on November 8, 2016, to demonetise old five hundred and one thousand rupee currency notes.”
The government’s very first cabinet decision was to set up an SIT on black-money, he said. “The passing of Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, amendments to treaties with Singapore, Cyprus and Mauritius to prevent misuse of provisions in such treaties for tax evasion and movement of black money in India and the Taxation Amendment Act providing for Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, have together resulted in a comprehensive policy backed initiative against black money,” he said.
He also said the government has saved about Rs 36,000 crore by implementing Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Scheme through Jan Dhan Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) trinity. “Financial inclusion is key to poverty alleviation. An unprecedented 26 crore plus Jan Dhan account have been opened for the unbanked. Over 20 crore RUPAY debit cards have been issued to enable cashless payments,” he said.
Moving swiftly from ‘Jan Dhan to Jan Suraksha’ close to 13 crore poor have been covered under various social security schemes, he said. Mukherjee said, “The DBT programme of subsidies through the JAM trinity has prevented the leakages and helped save Rs 36,000 crore. PAHAL is the world’s largest cash benefit transfer scheme that has saved over Rs 21,000 crore in two years.”