Keen to settle the payment dispute involving elite tennis players at the earliest, the Sports Ministry on Saturday said it was willing to clear the dues even on receiving the minimum documentation from AITA.
Rahul Bhatnagar, Joint Secretary, (International Sports Division) of the Ministry said it will not demand original bills if AITA certify the players' expenditures.
Frustrated over delay in the clearance of their dues, angry Indian men's tennis players Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna had threatened to boycott the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.
"We want to give money to these elite players but how can we give them if we do not have documents which show that they have spent money," Bhatnagar said.
"All we want is a certificate from AITA, signed by their charted accountant that players have spent money. We will not ask for original bills but there has to be some proof that they money has been spent," he said.
Bhatnagar said there was no delay on Sports Ministry's part and it was All India Tennis Association which has failed to produce the necessary documentation on time.
"We do not deal directly with the players. We get the bills from federations and pay to them. We have been telling AITA for the last two months that ministry has not received any bills from these elite players but AITA did not provide us anything," Bhatnagar, who is also chairman of the steering committee looking after the CWG preparations, said.
He said the ministry will release funds for only those tournaments which were not sponsored.
"We want to avoid double payment. Payment will be counted for only events where players have spent on their own and not by organisers or sponsors. AITA will have to issue certificate that such and such event was not sponsored," he said.
AITA Secretary General Anil Khanna had written to the four players that it has requested the ministry to find out the Balmer Lawrie rates of economy class air fare for the tournaments they have participated and reimburse them for 11 tournaments each for 2009 and 2010.
Asked about this, Bhatnagar said, "We are ready to pay economy fair but AITA will have to say that indeed money was spent on air fare while participating in those tournaments."
Bhatnagar said he understands practical difficulties of AITA but the ministry can't help it.
"I know that these players remain outside India most of the time and it must be difficult for AITA to get those bills from players to issue a certificate. But I cannot do anything in that. We need some proof to release funds," he said.
Bhatnagar will meet Khanna and AITA officials on Monday to sort out the issue. It is learnt that the AITA has managed to get details of two players so far and by Sunday the officials are expected to gather information from the other three players to submit it on Monday.