New Delhi, July 22 :The new defence purchase policy envisages a greater role for the private sector in supplying much needed equipment to the country's armed forces, Union Defence Minister A K Antony said this at International Technology Seminar on 'Future Infantry Combat Vehicle and Future Main Battle Tank'.
The two-day seminar is being jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in association with the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces.
Addressing the seminar, Antony said "It should be our endeavour to achieve maximum synergy between the Defence, Public and Private Sectors, in order to create a competitive defence technology edge and strengthen the industry base in our country".
He further added that the focus of the new rules and procedures in the defence procurement procedures 2008 (DPP 2008) is on ensuring speedier procurements of weapons, systems and platforms, while ensuring transparency. The DPP 2008 will be operative from August 1 and it incorporates the experience of the government and the armed forces since it was first formulated in 2006.
Antony also said that the new purchase policy would promote indigenisation and encourage wider representation on panels doing technical evaluation of indigenously designed military platforms. He said that collaborative and networked defence R and D can go a long way in enabling the nation address technology gaps, match global standards and promote indigenisation.
In his address, Chief of the Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, pointed out that while technology was critical for any nation's defence system, "what was also needed was the need to check any time and procedural delays." He said that while it was important to stress on indigenisation and collaborative approach, "we should not compromise on our operational capabilities."
Earlier in his opening remarks, Atul Kirloskar, Chairman, CII National Committee on Defence and CMD, Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd, urged the government to speedily notify the private companies being granted the Raksha Udyog Ratna status. The status would enable these companies to compete at par with the defence public sector enterprises and the ordinance factories for defence contracts.
He also emphasised the need for ensuring a level-playing field between the private and public sector. Noting that the defence sector was going through an era of technological interdependence, Mr Kirloskar said there was a need to contain cost and achieve competitiveness.
"This can be achieved if more public-private sector partnerships are promoted in the defence sector." This was specially important considering that India has been dependent on foreign sources for defence procurement for far too long, he added.
He also suggested that if a major share of defence purchases and acquisition could be spent in the country, this would have a multiplier effect on the overall economic growth and create more employment.
Delivering the theme address, Lt. Gen. Dalip Bhardwaj, Director-General Mechanised Forces, said that the time was right for greater private sector involvement in supplying defence equipment. "However, the industry must keep in mind the defence sector's end needs and not just the technology." According to him what the industry needs to do is to develop products that have a longer shelf life.
CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee added "the seminar aims to explore opportunities for public-private partnership in the area of design, development and manufacture of future ICVs and MBTs. It also endeavours to identify business opportunities related to maintenance and upgradation of existing defence equipment". Brig KA Hai (retd) gave the concluding remarks at the seminar, which witnessed participation from over 120 domestic and international defence companies.