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It May Happen Soon: India To Get Info On Swiss Bank Accounts

NEW DELHI: Giving more teeth to the Modi government’s crusade against tax evasion and crackdown on funds illegally stashed away in tax havens abroad by the rich and mighty, India looks set to get the crucial financial account information from Switzerland. It will pave the way for lifting the veil of secrecy over Swiss bank accounts held by influential business tycoons of India away from the prying eyes of tax sleuths.

The two countries today emphasized their willingness to further boost cooperation against in the fight  against tax fraud and tax evasion. The first concrete result of enhanced cooperation in finance and tax matters will show up with India getting the long-awaited financial account information. The exchange of information has been facilitated by the signing of the joint declaration in November last year on the implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI).

In this context, the visiting Switzerland President Mrs. Doris Leuthard briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the ongoing parliamentary procedure in Switzerland. Both the leaders held talks here today  and acknowledged the importance of a global level playing field for effective implementation of the international standards on tax transparency.   

Prime Minister Modi welcomed the steps taken by the Swiss side to expedite the execution of tax information sharing request by India and hoped that the two sides resolve outstanding issues expeditiously through bilateral dialogue at competent authority level. He also expressed his expectation that Switzerland will implement the recommendations of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information in Tax Matters with the view to further improve mutual administrative assistance in tax matters.

Both leaders agreed for enhanced engagement, closer convergence and stronger cooperation in tax and financial matters. Both sides also recognised the importance and potential benefits of cross-border investment and financial services and agreed to continue cooperation on these matters through regular dialogue, according to a joint statement issued here.

President Leuthard is currently on a state visit to India from August 30 to September 2. She is accompanied by the State Secretary for Economic Affairs Mrs. Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, State Secretary for International Financial Matters, Mr. Jörg Gasser and other officials. A high level business delegation from Switzerland is also accompanying the President.

Prime Minister Modi held a one-to-one meeting and delegation-level talks with President Leuthard. The Vice President of Venkaiah Naidu, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on her. Several other ministers will also separately call on President Leuthard.

Prime Minister Modi along with President Leuthard addressed the business leaders of both countries and held a fruitful exchange with them, the joint statement said. During the meeting with Prime Minister Modi, CEOs of Swiss companies expressed strong support for India’s economic reforms and highlighted their interest in contributing to India’s Flagship Programmes like Make in India, Smart Cities, Digital India, Swachh Bharat, Startup India, Skill India and other initiatives.

Both the leaders agreed that India’s policy of non-alignment and Switzerland’s traditional policy of neutrality had helped to develop a close understanding and solid grounds for constructive cooperation between the two nations on international and bilateral issues.

In light of the upcoming 70th Anniversary of the Swiss-Indian Friendship Treaty, Prime Minister Modi and President Leuthard resolved to strengthen the two country’s close, broad and longstanding friendship. They reiterated their commitment to democracy, rule of law, free trade, respect of human rights, pluralism and rule-based international order and agreed that the Swiss-Indian Friendship Treaty has strengthened bilateral relations by further enhancing trust and mutual respect.

Both leaders acknowledged the need for deepening and expanding bilateral ties through exchanges at various levels. They further agreed to continue with regular political consultations at official level between the two Foreign Ministries for exchanging views on major bilateral, global and regional issues of mutual interest.

Mr. Modi reiterated that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is an important component to realize India’s growth target and said that India especially welcomed Swiss investors. In this context, both Leaders agreed on the need for continuing negotiations on a new Bilateral Investment Treaty.  

Referring to green solutions and clean technology which can become one of the key areas of bilateral cooperation President Leuthard briefed Prime Minister Modi about the involvement of Swiss cooperation and companies in these initiatives, particularly on enhancing energy efficiency in buildings, sustainable development of mountain regions, and capacity building in Smart Cities Mission.

Both leaders applauded the existing cooperation in the domain of Internet Governance and digitalization, and reiterated the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach in this regard. Switzerland invited India to actively participate at the 12th UN Internet Governance Forum, to be held in Geneva in December. India hopes for a high level participation from Switzerland in the fifth edition of Global Conference on Cyber Space to be held in New Delhi in November.

The two sides welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on technical cooperation in the railway sector. The envisaged technical cooperation in the areas of railway safety and technology will promote efficiency and sustainability in the transport sector, Both sides believe that India’s ongoing railway modernization and expansion plans offer ample opportunities for the Swiss rail industry to engage with Indian railways and industry. A MoU was signed between Konkan Railway Cooperation Limited (KRCL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zürich).

The two leaders noted with satisfaction that large number of Indians visit Switzerland as foreign tourists each year. Underscoring the substantial potential for bilateral collaboration in the tourism and hospitality sector, the two Leaders took note of the scope for such cooperation, particularly in mountainous regions.

Both leaders expressed their strong commitment to delivering on the Paris Agreement of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to cooperate in formulating the guidelines by 2018 for its robust operationalization, reflecting their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. In light of different national circumstances President Leuthard appreciated Indian leadership on the International Solar Alliance to address climate change concerns.

India and Switzerland also urged all countries to work towards disrupting terrorist networks and financing as well as preventing violent extremism. They emphasized that the global counter terrorism legal framework should regularly be updated and strengthened to combat the scourge of terrorism. Both leaders urged that all member countries should demonstrate a collective political will to take concrete actions against terrorism and to implement the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

The joint statement reaffirmed the need for reform of the UN Security Council, including its expansion, to make it more representative, accountable, effective and responsive to the geo-political realities of the 21st century. Mr. Modi appreciated the valuable support of Switzerland for India’s candidature for the UNSC non-permanent seat in 2021-22. 

The two leaders expressed their commitment to support and strengthen global non-proliferation and disarmament objectives. Switzerland welcomed India’s accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and welcomed India’s intensified engagement with the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement, expressing its support for India’s Accession to these regimes.

The two sides expressed satisfaction with regular high-level contacts between the two countries that further deepens bilateral ties between the two nations. President Leuthard invited President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Modi to visit Switzerland at mutually convenient dates.  

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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