The David Cameron government has expressed hope that New Delhi will resolve the issue of outstanding payments to British companies involved in the 2010 Commonwealth Games before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives for a three-day visit in November.
Responding to a brief debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, foreign office minister Hugo Swire said he had raised the issue with the Indian high commissioner Ranjan Mathai and Britain would continue to press for a resolution.
The 2010 Games hosted by Delhi were hit by a string of corruption scandals involving purchase of equipment, awarding of contracts and inflated project costs. Several cases are still being heard in courts.
The debate in the House of Commons specifically identified payments due to SIS Live, a company contracted to televise the Games.
Conservative MP Laurence Robertson asked Swire, “SIS Live is a perfectly respectable British company which fully delivered on its commitments in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth games. Does he agree that the outstanding debt of £29 million should be paid to SIS Live in advance of the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to this country later this year?”
Swire responded, “Yes, we very much hope this will be resolved before Prime Minister Modi comes here shortly.” The visit, he said, would be an opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues.
“Bilateral trade with India is extremely good, but what is important is the signal this matter sends to other potential British companies looking to invest in India, so we do want it resolved,” Swire said.
The UK has on several occasions raised the issue of pending dues.
SIS Live was hired by India’s public broadcaster Doordarshan, which had the domestic rights for the Games, to provide outside-broadcast feed. The Central Bureau of Investigation had probed alleged irregularities in awarding of the contract but found nothing and filed a closure report in 2012.
Modi is expected here on a three-day visit from November 12 in what will be the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister in nearly a decade. The last such visit was by Manmohan Singh in 2006.