With the issue of black money stashed abroad coming into focus, President Pratibha Patil today said the government stood committed to tackling the menace frontally.
"My government stands committed to tackling the menace frontally. It requires diligent, sustained effort by all law enforcement agencies including those of state governments," she said addressing a joint sitting of members of Parliament, marking the start of the budget session.
She expressed concern over ill effects of black money, especially that was allegedly stashed away in foreign banks either through evasion of taxes on income earned legitimately or through illegal activities.
Noting that the government has taken many steps to strengthen the legal framework, the President said a multi-disciplinary study has been commissioned to go into its ramifications for national security and recommend a suitable framework to tackle it.
Declaring that the government would spare no effort in bringing back to India "what belongs to it and to bring the guilty to book, the President said the steps taken so far have led to additional collection of taxes of Rs 34,601 crore and detection of additional income of Rs 48,784 crore."
Detailing the steps taken by the government, she said India was also working closely with the international community especially through the G-20, to expedite the process of identification and recovery of such money.
She said India is now a member of the Financial Action Task Force in recognition of its anti-money laundering and anti-tax evasion measures and has also gained membership of the Eurasian Group and the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development.
Turning to the issue of corruption in the wake of rash of scams that have surfaced recently, she said, "Our citizens deserve good governance. It is their entitlement and our obligation".
"My government stands committed to improving the quality of governance and enhancing transparency, probity and integrity in public life," Patil said.
She said that a Group of Ministers was considering all measures including legislative and administrative to tackle corruption and improve transparency.
"The group will consider issues relating to the formulation of a public procurement policy and enunciation of public procurement standards and review and abolition of discretionary powers enjoyed by ministers", she said.
Besides, it would also seek introduction of an open and competitive system of exploiting natural resources, fast tracking of cases against public servants charged with corruption and amendments to relevant laws to facilitate quicker action against public servants, she said.
The Group will also consider issues relating to the state funding of elections. The report of the GoM is expected soon, the President said.
A Bill to give protection to whistle blowers has been introduced in Parliament, she said, adding the government has also decided to ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
On the issue of electoral reforms, she hoped that the process of consultations would lead to a consensus on an "acceptable" agenda of reforms.
She said the government attached high priority to improving the delivery of justice and reducing delays in the disposal of cases. The details of the National Mission for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms are expected to be finalised soon.
The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, already introduced in Parliament, is intended to enhance the accountability of the judiciary, thereby improving its image and efficiency, the President said.