Oz Trade Minister raises CWG payment issue

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New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) Australian Trade Minister CraigEmerson today raised the issue of non-payment of dues toAustralian companies for Commonwealth Games-related work withhis Indian counterpart Anand Sharma on the sidelines of thePartnership Summit in Mumbai.

The bilateral talks between the two ministers came on aday when embattled Suresh Kalmadi was sacked as the Chairmanof the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee in the interestof an impartial probe.

Kalmadi''s close aid Lalit Bhanot was also removed as theSecretary General of the OC with immediate effect.

The decision to remove the top two officials was taken bythe new Sports Minister Ajay Maken, who has given a ten-dayultimatum to the government nominees in the OrganisingCommittee to sort out the payment disputes regarding theAustralian firms and ensure that all the legitimate bills arecleared.

Australia, had last week raised the issue with India ofnon-payment of bills to its companies, which claimed they werenot paid for their work at last year''s Delhi Games by theOrganising Committee.

The payment issue also figured prominently duringExternal Affairs Minister S M Krishna''s bilateral meeting withhis Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd last week, leaving thevisiting Indian leader face an embarrassing situation.

Emerson arrived in the financial capital today to discussbilateral trade and economic issues ahead of Commerce andIndustry Minister Anand Sharma''s visit to Australia later thisyear for annual Joint Ministerial Commission trade talks.

Several Australian sporting bodies and event groups hadclaimed that they owed millions of dollars by the DelhiCommonwealth Games organisers.

Australian Commonwealth Games Association (ACGA) ChiefExecutive Perry Crosswhite had said his body was one of "30 or40" similar Games bodies around the world that owed money byDelhi organisers.

"We''re owed a travel subsidy payment in the six figuresthat was due in November," Crosswhite had said.

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