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Black Money: Indians Declare $9.5 Billion in income that was never Taxed or Reported

64,275 Indians who declared so-called black money during the four-month period that ended Friday would pay 45 percent in taxes to the state but avoid criminal prosecution

People wait in front of an income tax billboard at a bus stop in New Delhi, India, Sept. 26, 2016. VOA

October 2, 2016: Tens of thousands of Indians have come forward over the past four months to declare a collective $9.5 billion in income that was never reported or taxed, India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley announced Saturday.

Jaitley said that number could increase because some declarations are still being processed.

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Under a government plan announced by Jaitley earlier this year, the 64,275 Indians who declared so-called black money during the four-month period that ended Friday would pay 45 percent in taxes to the state but avoid criminal prosecution.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who vowed to curb tax avoidance when he was elected in 2014, congratulated both Jaitley and those who chose to declare their black money Saturday.

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“I compliment all those who chose to be tax compliant in IDS-2016. This is a great contribution towards transparency & growth of the economy,” he tweeted from his official account.

This is not the first time the government of India has instituted such a tax amnesty program — Jaitley said a program in 1997 brought in $1.5 billion to the government.

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The government faced opposition to the action since the release of the so-called Panama Papers in April, which listed individuals and companies that had avoided taxes by setting up shell companies in Panama. About 500 Indians were among those accused. (VOA)

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PM Narendra Modi: Government bringing Stringent Consumer Protection Law

Prime Minister Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a speech. IANS

New Delhi, October 26: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the government was in the process of enacting stringent legislation aimed at protecting consumers along with setting up a Consumer Protection Authority (CPA).

“Consumers’ protection is this government’s priority. We are in the process to bring a new law on consumer protection keeping in mind the need of the country and business practices here,” Modi said at an International Conference on Consumer Protection for East, South and South-East Asian Countries.

“We are in the process of forming a Consumer Protection Authority, which will have executive powers, for immediate redressal.”

The rules were being streamlined to solve consumer problems in less time and at less cost, he added.

“The stress is being given on consumer empowerment. Strict provisions are being contemplated against misleading advertisements,” Modi said.

He said India was among the few countries which had enacted a law a year after the UN adopted guidelines on consumer protection in 1986.

The Prime Minister also said the prices of commodities were set to go down and consumer protection for their interest effects due to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Due to the GST, the competition among companies was going to increase. So prices will go down. It will help consumers from lower middle class and poor sections,” Modi said.

“Earlier, transportation by trucks would take five days but it has come down to just three three days now as checkposts on borders have vanished after the GST. It means transportation cost has gone down. This is going to be transferred to consumers,”

Taking a dig at those opposed to the GST, he said: “Some people may be taking advantage of the lack of awareness. However, the benefits will be transferred (to consumers) in days to come.”

Talking about the conference, Modi said: “It shows how seriously we take the needs of our citizens and how we strive hard to solve their problems”.

“It is the first conference in the region, where everyone is trying in their own ways to save the interest of consumers. However, we have to keep in mind that the world is going towards a single market,” Modi said.(IANS)