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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  G20 leaders join Narendra Modi in call to fight corruption

Leaders of the Group of 20 nations (G20), including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday vowed to implement an anti-corruption action plan as part of a drive against the use of shell firms and trusts to engage in tax evasion and money laundering.

“We endorse the 2015-16 G20 anti-corruption plan that will support growth and resilience," the leaders said in a communique released at the end of the two-day summit.

A set of principles for governments to follow, that aims to make it easier to find out who is the beneficial owner of entities which are stated to facilitate hundreds of billions of dollars in illicit financial flows, was unveiled by the G20 and contained in annexures to the communique.

“Our actions are building cooperation and networks, including to enhance mutual legal assistance, recovery of proceeds of corruption and denial of safe haven to corrupt officials," the communique said. “We commit to improve transparency of public and private sectors, and of beneficial ownership by implementing the G20 high-level principles on beneficial ownership transparency."

The anti-corruption plan seeks to ensure investments by firms or individuals and the details of it are shared between developing and developed countries.

G20 host and Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the initiative will be operational in the next three years. “My understanding is, it starts now and we will build up over the next couple of years," he told reporters.

“In 2014, corruption remains a very significant threat to global growth and financial stability," said a G20 2014 Brisbane anti-corruption update, adding “there is a clear link between illicit financial flows and company structures."

The G20 countries recognized that bribery imposes a heavy price on the public and private sectors with the annual cost of bribery estimated by the World Bank to be $1 trillion. The principles state countries should ensure that legal persons maintain beneficial-ownership information onshore and that information is adequate, accurate and current.

Modi proposed a global virtual centre for clean energy research and development (R&D), with adequate public funding, and invited G20 countries to invest in India’s expanding energy sector.

Modi made the proposal while observing that increased access to affordable, assured and clean energy supply for all should be a primary goal of the global community. “It is a major economic opportunity for all countries," he said.

Modi made the reference to issues relating to energy during his intervention at the plenary session of the G20 summit. He invited G20 countries which is a grouping of industrialized and emerging economies to come and invest in the energy sector in India.

“Energy efficiency is the best source of clean energy. In India, for example, building energy efficiency and efficiency in areas such as buildings, household appliances and industrial goods is receiving strong attention. I invite you to come and invest in this sector in India," he said.

Modi also said he believed that change in lifestyle and economy in consumption will be the most enduring response to energy challenges. The PM also called for an ambitious and innovative effort to make renewable energy, especially solar energy, competitive with conventional energy. “In Gujarat, the canal-top project worked well and saved water, too," he said. Modi also said pricing of carbon, especially in mature markets with universal availability of power, can stimulate shift to renewable energy.

“Let us increase our collective R&D efforts and collaboration; and, ensure dissemination to all countries. For this, I would propose we set up a global virtual centre for clean energy research and development, with adequate public funding, which will fund collaborative projects in diverse sources of clean energy, smart grids, energy efficiency, etc.," he said.

On Saturday, PM Modi pitched for global cooperation on repatriation of black money stashed abroad during the summit. Meeting the G20 leaders for the first time in a summit, Modi made it clear that repatriation of unaccounted Indian money stashed in banks abroad is his government’s priority and also sent a message that economic reforms should be insulated from politics.

Modi was accorded a red carpet welcome as he kicked off his first bilateral visit to Australia, unveiling a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi with the message that he is as relevant now as he was during his time.

Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Australia in 28 years after Rajiv Gandhi, exhorted the global community to take a cue from Gandhi’s teachings of non-violence and love in meeting challenges like terrorism and global warming.

The 2.5m bronze statue of Gandhi is installed at Roma Street Parkland in Australia’s southeastern state of Queensland. It was sculpted by Delhi-based Ram Suttar.

Later, Modi was feted at a civic reception hosted in his honour by Queensland premier Campbell Newman at the city hall. Speaking in English, Modi highlighted that India and Australia shared a “special bond", and asserted that relations between countries can prosper fully if states and cities are involved in international engagements.

The enthusiastic welcome for Modi by the Indian diaspora did not go unnoticed by Campbell, who told the PM, “You have lots of fans in Brisbane." PTI

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Updated: 17 Nov 2014, 12:20 AM IST
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