New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday vowed not to spare corrupt and black money holders, saying efforts of his government have freed corridors of power from brokers, enhanced the number of taxpayers and saved Rs 90,000 crore by eliminating bogus beneficiaries.
In his nearly 90-minute address to the nation on the occasion of 72nd Independence Day from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Modi thanks honest taxpayers for their contribution in the development of the country, which is now the world's sixth largest economy. Also, nepotism and partisan politics have been eliminated and strict action is being taken against bribery.
"We will not spare the corrupt and those who have stashed black money. They have ruined the country," he said. "Delhi's streets are now free from power brokers.
From (a time when) the voice of power brokers (was heard), the voice of the poor is (now) heard." Modi, in his fifth Independence Day speech, also mentioned the clamp down on three lakh shell companies that were used to launder ill-gotten money.
Listing measures that have brought the untaxed in the tax net, he said the number of income taxpayers has increased to 6.75 crore from 3.5-4 crore before 2014. Also, the implementation of one-nation, one-tax scheme of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has led to a rise in the number of indirect taxpayers from 70 lakh to 1.16 crore.
The Prime Minister said the government has eliminated middlemen and bogus beneficiaries by transferring government benefits to those who actually deserve them. This has led to the elimination of 6 crore bogus beneficiaries who previously cornered subsidised cooking gas LPG, pension, and scholarships, saving Rs 90,000 crore for the exchequer.
"There were 6 crore people who were not even born, and government benefits were being taken in their name," Modi said. Citing an example, he said the government procures wheat at Rs 25 per kg for supplying it to the poor at Rs 2 but this often gets diverted into the open market to the benefit of middlemen. He said the country was now celebrating the "festival of honesty".
Stressing that the honest taxpayer of India has a major role in the progress of the nation, Modi said: "It is due to them that so many people are fed, the lives of the poor are transformed." During his speech, Modi also listed out several welfare schemes being implemented by his government.
Besides, he talked about distribution of 5 crore LPG connections among poor women that have helped replace polluting firewood in rural kitchens with cleaner cooking gas, and electrification of all the villages in the country in a record time. Modi also said 13 crore Mudra loans have been provided so far, which is contributing towards job creation.
Of these, four crore are the first-time borrowers. Improvement in India's ranking on ease of doing business, the country becoming the world's sixth largest economy and praise from various international organisations too found a detailed mention in his speech. Without referring to any political party, Modi also questioned the delay in implementation of the GST.
"Who did not want the passage of the GST, yet it was pending for years," he wondered. The long-awaited GST was rolled out on July 1, 2017. Modi said despite initial difficulties in implementing the new indirect tax regime, traders have adopted it.