The government was committed to bringing back "every penny" of black money stashed abroad and it will not be held back in its efforts, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.
"I want to tell the people that please have faith in this pradhan sevak (chief servant) of yours...that this is an article of faith that every paisa that has gone will come back," said Modi in his second nationwide radio speech called 'Mann ki Baat'.
"I assure you I will not be held back in bringing back whatever the amount." Modi said there could be a difference in the path and procedure to bring back the black money, "but what I understand and what I know is that we are on the right path", Modi said in his 18-minute address.
He said that no one knows the exact figure of the amount stashed abroad, "and nor did the previous government...and everyone gives different figures".
He said he does not want to get into figures. "This is the wealth of the poor and should be brought back and I want to assure you that there will be no let-up in my efforts. I just want your blessings."
Black money is income that is not disclosed to the government and, therefore, not assessed for tax, and although there is no official fix on how much of it is there, unofficial estimates say it could be as much as $500 billion or Rs. 31 lakh crore (nearly 30% of India's $1.8-trillion GDP).
Washington-based think-tank Global Financial Integrity has estimated that India suffered $344 billion in illicit fund outflows between 2002 and 2011.
The Modi government last week gave the Supreme Court a secret list of 627 people suspected of stashing black money in foreign banks beyond the reach of tax authorities.
After coming to power, Modi set up a team of regulators and former judges to identify illicit fund-holders and repatriate money. But it has encountered difficulty obtaining details of account-holders from foreign nations due to financial confidentiality issues.
The Prime Minister thanked the public for their support for his cleanliness mission. “Nobody could have imaged that Swachhta (cleanliness) will turn into such a revolution. The mission has influenced children the most.”
The Prime Minister said he was happy that his radio address had gone down well with the public. In his last address, he had asked people to buy at least one khadi (homespun cotton) garment. “I had not asked people to go khadi all the way…just asked them to buy one khadi outfit. You’ll be happy to know that since then, khadi outlets have report 125% jump in sales.”
Modi also devoted Sunday’s radio address to some social issues, expressing concern over the menace of drug abuse among the youth and promised to speak on it in his next chat.
HT Column| Black money case: It's an economic problem, keep politics out of it