India will by January come out with a policy on employing representatives to facilitate arms trade and have guidelines in place for punishing military contractors who break the law, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday.
Agents are currently not allowed in the defence sector. However, Parrikar admitted that the sector was teeming with agents who had amassed vast wealth through defence business.
“Having legally-appointed representatives with a clear method of payment of fees is a better solution for the military,” Parrikar said at a function here. He clarified that the government had not taken any decision on the matter yet and he was merely “thinking out loud.”
He said weapon suppliers could be asked to disclose in advance the agreement they had with their representatives. “There cannot be any payment against success fee but expenses can be paid,” Parrikar said. The government could impose heavy penalties on firms if they broke rules.
He said weapon suppliers were forced to hire agents in the past to get files cleared.
Parrikar made it clear that blacklisting defence contractors for breaking the law was not a pragmatic solution. He illustrated, “Finmeccanica (parent firm of AgustaWestland which is embroiled in the VVIP chopper scam) has 39 subsidiaries. Should we stop dealing with all 39? I don’t agree…the military needs equipment.”
Parrikar said what action was to be taken against errant firms would depend on the severity of offence.
HT was the first to report on July 23 that the government was working on a plan to strike a balance between the need to punish defence contractors who may have violated the law and to keep the forces battle ready.
Taking a dig at the previous regime, Parrikar said the UPA’s two terms were lost decade for the military but “gained decade” for many others. He said purchases that should have taken off in 2007 were coming to him now. He said delay in taking decisions allowed agents to step in with the "jaa-kar-kissi-ko-khilao" (bribe someone) mentality. He said his predecessor AK Antony had a clean image but it did not reflect in arms purchases.
Hard line on Pak
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said India would teach the rogue (Pakistan) “a proper lesson,” amid a surge in terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir. He said the country had not ruled out the option of taking “hard measures” against Pakistan. “Hum eent ka jawab patthar se denge (we will give a tit-for-tat reply).”