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Reforms an ongoing process in India: Jaitley

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Singapore: Pointing out that reforms were an ongoing process in the development of the nation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the Indian government has several legislations in the pipeline that would be pursued in the next few years.

“The bankruptcy code is ready while changes to the arbitration laws and several other legislations are in the pipeline… for the next few years, we have our agenda full; reforms are an ongoing process,” Jaitley told investors at an event here.

Photo credit: thehindu.com
Photo credit: thehindu.com

Jaitley was on a visit here to attend The Singapore Summit, an annual investment event organised by the Singapore government with participation from various Asian countries.

The finance minister said legislation that could be taken in money bill form would be pursued.

A money bill is important as it cannot be blocked by India’s upper house, the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA government lacks a majority, which has stymied attempts to carry forward legislation on land acquisition and the goods and services tax.

Assuring the investors present that the Narendra Modi government would continue to make India an attractive investment destination, he said the country was no longer suffering from policy paralysis and an uncertain taxation regime, while India’s states were vying with each other to attract investment.

At an event held in New Delhi on Thursday, Jaitley said that with the stated objective of ease of doing business, all tax disputes would be put to rest, adding that this was a “work in progress” along with steps to make it easier to do business in India.

“Since May 2014, a number of tax disputes have been put to rest since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government took office,” he said at an economic summit organised by Ficci’s International Chamber of Commerce.

“We are trying over the next few days itself (to look at pending disputes) so that many others can be put to sleep – either by a judicial resolution or some executive resolution,” the minister added.

(IANS)

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

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Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)