By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 30 (IANS) Expressing support for “pro-business reforms” undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his commitment to fighting corruption, the US has said it encouraged all governments, including India, to address the issue of corruption.
“Speaking generally, we’re supportive,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Monday when asked if Washington thought if US investments will be safe in India in view of recent action taken against NGOs in India.
“I can say Prime Minister Modi’s pro-business reforms, including his commitment to fighting corruption and – as well as his public remarks, I think, recently and regarding improving India’s position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report – these are initiatives that clearly take time to implement.”
“But certainly private companies, whether they’re US or other nationalities, look at the investment climate when they’re thinking about investing somewhere, and obviously, corruption plays into that evaluation and assessment,” he said.
“So certainly corruption’s never a good thing, and we encourage all governments, including India, to address it,” Toner added.
Asked how can be assured of a crackdown on corruption in India in view of New Delhi’s silence in the case of Lalit Modi, the spokesman said:
“Well, again, I would just say we’ve been encouraged by some of the reforms that he’s pledged to undertake, Prime Minister Modi.”
“We’ll see how they’re implemented. This obviously is not something that can be done overnight. But more broadly speaking, corruption’s always a concern. So any government should address it,” he said.
As for NGOs, Toner said: “We remain concerned about difficulties caused to civil society organizations, NGOs, by the manner in which the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act has been applied.”
“Obviously, more broadly, we support civil society throughout the world, and we believe ardently that a vibrant civil society actually strengthens democratic institutions and culture, and it certainly gives voice to all – or for all to express their views,” he said.
“So we support a strong civil society, and certainly non-governmental organizations, NGOs, are part of that process,” Toner said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])