Fighter jet deal put off to next fiscal due to budget constraints: Antony

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

Wait and watch Defence Minister AK Antony at the Defence expo in Delhi on Thursday. MONICA TIWARI

92% of total capital expenditure already complete, says Minister

The proposed ₹60,000-crore deal with France’s Dassault Aviation for acquiring 126 fighter planes will not take place this fiscal due to budgetary constraints, Defence Minister AK Antony said here on Thursday.

“For major procurement, there is no money left in the current fiscal (ending March 31 this year),” Antony said at a press conference. Ninety-two per cent of the total capital expenditure has already been completed by January 31.

At the same time, due to budgetary constraints, over ₹7,900 crore from the capital account has been shifted on recurring expenses such as salary and maintenance, Antony said. But there is no cut in the Defence budget, he added.

The Minister said the Government is also looking into the complaints about the procedure for determining the lowest bidder for acquiring 126 fighter aircraft. The Government had, in January 2012, picked Dassault’s Rafale fighters as it was the lowest bidder in the auction process.

“There are complaints about the procedure of calculating the Life Cycle Cost and that issue is not yet settled. Before bringing the deal before the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval, we would like to get clear on that aspect,” he said.

According to the Indian defence procedure, the firms quoting the lowest price and meeting the requirements of the respective services is awarded the contract.

The Minister said that LCC has been taken into view to determine the lowest bidder.

Admitting that the military procurement process may not be 100 per cent clean,” the Minister said that strict actions such as blacklisting of firms has sent a strong signal to vendors that any “mischief in Indian acquisition process can be dangerous”.

Antony indicated that the Central Bureau of Investigation is in the final stages of its probe into allegations of corruption in the $753-million deal to buy helicopters from AgustaWestland. In January, after 15 months of investigation, the Government scrapped the contract which was to acquire helicopters for travel by VVIPs such as the President and Prime Minister.

Published on February 06, 2014

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