New defence minister hints at plans to legalise agents, transparency is the need of hour
Prahlad Rao | December 31, 2014
To rev up defence procurement in a big way, defence minister Manohar Parrikar has hinted at limited approval to dealing with banned firms and assured changes in the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) to legalise representatives from foreign defence firms by mid-February.
“Changes will be made to the DPP, representatives will be allowed but commission, or percentage of profit for the deals will not be allowed. The representatives’ remuneration shall be declared by the company,” Parrikar revealed on Tuesday night.
This kind of open policy was issued over a decade ago. The guidelines for registering defence agents required them to list their contractual, banking and financial details with the ministry of defence. But the outcome has been disappointing as no agent has come forward to register with the government.
And this is where the problem begins. It is well-known in defence circles that the agents like to keep low profile with limited visibility in the corridors of power. This is to ensure that they are not exploited by all and sundry to push their files through the procurement channel.
But the agents are harassed by all kinds of officials for payment and corruption. It starts before the bid and continues even after the contract is signed.
Middlemen and defence agents were banned for years after the scandal broke out in the 1980s involving alleged kickbacks paid to politicians and officials in the purchase of Bofors guns during the Congress government.
Many recommendations to legalise middlemen and making negotiations transparent have been made by committees and also by the central vigilance commissioner. Parikkar has said that banned firms can be conditionally allowed “based on merit and necessity”. Here again the government seeks to inject discretion as the firms will be at the mercy to officials if they want to participate in any negotiations.
An immediate solution to this multi-billion dollar problem is to have an open and transparent policy. It should include clear guidelines on bidding and procurement. Secondly, designate officials for each defence deal and monitor their assets. Since it is public money, let people know the whole process of defence purchases. Do not operate in secrecy.
As India celebrates 70 years of freedom, Governance Now looks back and picks 70 words – or phrases, buzzwords, slogans, events – that best define this ancient nation and young democracy. Here, you will find much to be proud of, much tinged with pangs of nostalgia. Then there are entries that
Dr Kenneth E Thorpe, a professor of health policy and management at Emory University in the US and also the executive director of Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases (PFCD), says that the government alone cannot do everything. “They don’t have the resources and capacity. So we have to fin
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture company of PSUs of ministry of power, signed an agreement with oil marketing companies (OMCs) of ministry of petroleum and natural gas for distribution of energy efficient appliances under the flagship Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LEDs and applianc
Union minister for civil aviation, P Ashok Gajapathi Raju inaugurated the upgraded passenger terminal building of Jammu airport. Notably, Jammu airport belongs to the Indian Air Force, and airports authority of India (AAI) maintains a civil enclave for civil aircraft operat
The election commission has become increasingly assertive in the past few months, showing its mettle in times of electoral challenges. Weeks after rooting from EVMs and just days after the poll panel declared votes cast by two rebel Congress legislators in the Rajya Sabha e
Is Amit Shah`s blueprint for 350-plus seats in 2019 Lok Sabha elections achievable?