Govt working to make defence acquisitions transparent: PM

GovtWorking_PMGURGAON: Against the backdrop of scams such as the VVIP chopper scandal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the Government was working towards making defence acquisitions “transparent” and “less vulnerable to unethical practices”.

He said the Government is taking steps to indigenise defence procurement and stimulate the development of the domestic defence industry.

“We have also been guided by the objective of making our defence acquisition transparent, smooth, efficient and less vulnerable to unethical practices. We will continue to seek the highest standards of probity in defence acquisition,” Singh said.

The Prime Minister said the Government is conscious of the fact that adequate defence preparedness is critically dependent on sound defence acquisition policies.

“We have paid close attention to this and have continually reformed those policies to ensure that our armed forces have the best equipment,” he said.

The Prime Minister was addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone of Indian National Defence University.

In the recent past, a number of scams have taken place in the defence ministry including the VVIP chopper scandal in which it is alleged that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore were paid to swing the deal in favour of Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland.

The Defence Ministry has banned a number of firms including foreign vendors from doing business with India after they were found violating their integrity pact with the Government. . On the steps being taken by the government to indigenise defence industry, the Prime Minister said, “This is important not only to enhance our security, but also to spur industrial development and economic growth of our country.”

“We must fully utilise the sophisticated management and technological capacities that are already present in our private sector, including in the defence field, not just for production but also for defence research and development,” he said.

Singh said the Government attaches highest priority to the task of providing defence and security to the country.

“We seek to advance peace, stability, friendship and cooperation in our region and beyond, and we do so with the confidence that our armed forces can defend our country against any threat. This confidence is based on the many steps that the Government has taken to strengthen our nations defence capabilities,” he said.

The Prime Minister said in the last few years, “We have added significantly to the land forces to protect our borders and inducted new equipment to increase the Armys firepower.”

“Our ability to service our frontiers with improved infrastructure and enhanced air mobility is considerably greater today than in the past. We have enhanced the full spectrum of capabilities of our Air Force and are equipping it to remain at the cutting edge of technology for the decades that lie ahead,” he said.

Singh said the maritime region of the country is also more secure as the capabilities of the Navy have seen “enormous expansion” in the last five years.

“We have placed special emphasis on strengthening the capabilities of our Navy, which is fully equipped to operate at great distances from our shores, protect our maritime interests, respond to natural disasters and provide humanitarian assistance to the need,” he said. –PTI

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