New Delhi, May 27 (ANI): In the toughest ever message yet to be issued by a Defence Minister to stem corruption in armed forces procurements, A K Antony today said the Government "would not hesitate to ruthlessly cancel contracts," if malpractices are found in any acquisition.
Antony asked organisations such as the CII and the FICCI, etc to help the government to maintain transparency and integrity in defence contracts, and added that the government would not tolerate "wheeling dealing or corruption."
"We are determined that we need procurements, (but) we cannot compromise on transparency. At times, we have found certain manipulations, malpractices; we cannot ignore that so we ruthlessly cancelled certain major ticket items."
"In the future also if there are any malpractices we will not be lenient, we will take the harsh lane," Antony further said.
The government cancelled at least two defence deals during Antony's previous tenure as Defence Minister, including the Eurocopter light utility helicopter deal owing to some malpractices.
Signifying the government's assurance in rooting out corruption and to give a strong warning to private contractors, Antony added, " They should not try to bribe our people. We will not be lenient. We will take strong action."
The Defence Minister was speaking at Defcom India 2009 seminar themed on "Informatics for Defence Transformation and Technology Development in the Information Age".
The seminar saw participation of over 400 delegates and 100 plus companies.
Antony said the Government has consciously taken a decision to minimise the country's dependence on import of defence systems and platforms, and agreed that more products should be sourced on the basis of "buy and make" rather than 'buy' category alone.
He lamented that nearly 70 percent of defence weapons and systems are still being imported and only 30 percent are being indigenously produced.
Antony said the turbulence in our immediate neighbourhood puts the political stability in our country in an even better perspective.
He said the need to modernise our defence forces to preserve our territorial integrity in the face of asymmetric and unconventional means of warfare couldn't be overemphasised.
Antony called for a synergy of efforts of the armed forces, the industry, the academia and research and development establishments to transform our defence forces to a network centric force.
The transformation of defence forces is a continuous process, and the overall aim should be to bring about sustained competitive advantages in warfare, Antony said.
Referring to the new challenges before the Armed Forces, both in terms of the concepts involved and the material needed, Antony said it is neither possible nor feasible to have equipment and systems on stand-by for all conceivable variants of modern military conflicts. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)