Defence procurement policy to be revised again: Antony

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AK Antony
New Delhi, Mar 4: Stung by the opposition's criticism of the government's failure to react to allegations of corruption in the VVIP chopper deal, the ruling UPA is mulling a drastic change in defence procurement policy.

Though the policy was revised just two years ago, Defence Minister AK Antony informed the Lok Sabha on Monday that "Within a few months we are going to change the defence procurement procedure again."

During the Question Hour, MPs demanded to know who exactly had received the kickbacks amounting to Rs 362 crore in the deal. Italian investigators have seized transcripts of a middleman's phone conversations.

Guido Ralph Haschke mentioned the payment of bribes to Indian officials including former Air Force Chief Shashi P Tyagi and his cousins so that Italian aerospace giant Finmeccanica could benefit to the tune of Rs 3600 crore, reports say.

Speaking about the CBI probe into the deal, Antony said that it is too early to worry whether the controversy would affect future defence deals.

He pointed out the need for the country's armed forces to import equipment. "Because of the operational necessity of the Services, on the request that they need the most modern equipment to meet the operational necessity, the government moves to import any high value equipment from foreign sources," Antony noted.

Stressing that indigenisation is the "ultimate solution to the scourge of corruption", he promised to accord "more priority to indigenisation so that Indian public sector and private sector can play a major role in producing state-of-the-art equipment for the Indian forces."

On Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland using a consultant from the United Kingdom to clinch the deal, Antony said that the UK has already been apprised of India's concern over this matter.

"The UK side informed the Ministry of External Affairs that they had not launched any investigation and were awaiting the results of the Italian investigation in order to ascertain whether any further action needs to be taken," Antony told the Lower House.

OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)

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