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Indian Government’s Demonetisation measures did not impede Future Black Money Flows: UN report

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FILE - A private money trader counts Indian rupee currency notes at a shop in Mumbai, India. (Representational image). VOA

New Delhi, May 8, 2017: The Indian government’s demonetisation measures did not impede future black money flows in new denominations, a UN report said on Monday.

According to UN Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2017, complementary measures to demonetization would be required to target all forms of undeclared wealth and assets.

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“Broader structural reforms which could also contribute to enhanced transparency include: the implementation of a goods and services tax; voluntary disclosure of income scheme; and tracking of high-value transactions through taxpayer identification numbers,” it said.

“Other measures, such as reforming the real estate registration process to ensure transparency, are being discussed.”

As per the report, the disruption caused by demonetisation had “greater and longer-lasting” impacts for lower-income individuals, households and businesses that had difficulty insulating themselves against the shock.

“Rural incomes and consumption were affected due to a decline in prices for agricultural products (although again, this was not reflected in the national accounts data which measure agriculture in terms of quantity),” the report said.

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“In the medium-term, the currency initiative is expected to bring more economic activities into the formal sector and spur digitisation of financial transactions, helping to broaden the tax base and secure the fiscal space needed for public social and infrastructure expenditures.”

The report pointed out that “one-off” currency measure in effect transferred lost black money to the central government through unclaimed or unexchanged notes.

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“Preliminary estimates suggested a 97 per cent recovery of notes, which would imply a 3.16 per cent increase in fiscal revenues for the government,” the report read.

On November 8, 2016, exactly six-months ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would withdraw India’s two largest currency denominations — Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 — from circulation.

The two bank note denominations which were withdrawn represented more than 86 per cent of the cash in circulation. (IANS)

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AI Can be a Helpful Tool for Government to Deliver Public Services

Case studies in the report highlight how a competitive selection process may spell the way forward to discover and initiate pioneering AI technology in public service delivery

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as a helpful tool for governments in the Asia Pacific region to deliver public services, revealed a new UN-Google report on Wednesday.

The study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Google cited case studies highlighting the importance of partnerships between governments and technology firms for the delivery of public services.

Among the case studies that the report mentioned included an AI initiative in India that informs farmers of the best sowing date to increase crop yields.

The state governments in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka teamed up with Microsoft to develop predictive AI services to help smallholder farmers to improve their crop yields and give them greater price control.

Since 2016 three applications have been developed. The report discussed two of these apps — the AI sowing app and the price forecasting model.

Both of the AI applications improved the lives of smallholder farmers in southern India by bridging information gaps and mitigating growing environmental risks. These AI services have the potential to increase crop yields, prices and incomes, the study concluded.

“The best part of the project is that the investment required by the farmers to benefit from the technology is minimal: all they need are a mobile phone capable of receiving text messages and a subscription to the most basic mobile phone services,” said the report.

Clearly, to make a technology accessible and affordable is a crucial step towards technology for inclusiveness.

artificial intelligence, nobel prize
“Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society.” VOA

“On the path to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, governments in Asia and the Pacific are urgently pursuing innovative means to deliver effective, efficient and fair public services,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.

“Frontier technologies such as AI hold promise to reimagine how the public sector can better serve sustainable development needs.”

The report also features insights as well as context-specific recommendations from deployments of AI in a variety of sectors: health, justice, agriculture, environment, insurance and social welfare.

Public-private partnerships will become increasingly important to complement government initiatives with industry knowledge and expertise, said the report.

Also Read: Intel All Set to Acquire Smart Edge Platform from Pivot Technology

Amid the rapid pace of technological development, the report recommends that governments develop frameworks to regulate these partnerships and encourage more public information on AI projects to foster a landscape conducive to informed decision-making on AI partnerships.

Since applying AI in the public sector is still at an early stage of development, setbacks and a trial-and-error process may be inevitable.

Case studies in the report highlight how a competitive selection process may spell the way forward to discover and initiate pioneering AI technology in public service delivery. (IANS)