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Iraq re-building: Indian team to visit UN

A team of Indian businessmen will visit the UN headquarters in New York by Saturday to lobby for contracts in Iraq's reconstruction and supply of food, materials and services.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2003 17:46 IST

A team of Indian businessmen will visit the UN headquarters in New York by Saturday to lobby for contracts in Iraq's reconstruction and supply of food, materials and services.

A senior government official will lead the team.

"The UN is executing contracts for goods worth $10.1 billion sourced from almost 100 countries. It is imperative that India presents its case to the officials concerned in the UN so that the stake of Indian business in the Oil for Food programme can be maximized," A C Muthiah, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), told media on Thursday.

Under the UN programme Indian companies have contracts worth around Rs 30 billion, of which Rs 6 billion worth are in transit to Iraq.

While the UN has put 23 of the hundreds of contracts on the list of priority items for delivery, including two shipments of wheat worth about Rs 300 million, there are scores of other contracts for which Indian companies have sent representation.

"We will be sending a delegation immediately to the UN Office of Iraq Programme (OIP) in New York to discuss fructification of over Rs 30 billion worth of goods and materials to be supplied before May 12 according to resolution 1472 passed on March 28," said Muthiah.

FICCI has requested the ministry of external affairs to assign a senior official to lead the delegation to present India's case, said Amit Mitra, director general of FICCI.

"The delegation will include the chairman of India-Iraq joint business council H S Mejie and vice chairman Anil K Agarwal to represent the interests of around 39 companies that have been active in Iraq for decades," said Mitra.

During the US visit, the Indian delegation will also be visiting Washington to urge US organisations that have been designated for reconstruction of Iraq to seek India's participation.

"We will strive to underline the understanding of Indian companies about the terrain in Iraq and our track record of handling projects there," said Mejie, chairman of PCP International, which has been operating in Iraq for the last 25 years, undertaking major infrastructure projects and representing Indian companies.

Mejie feels Indian companies will have a definite role in the reconstruction work.

"While some of the major US companies have been short-listed for reconstruction projects, we cannot hope to bag the sub-contracts that may be given to other US and European companies. Indian companies should be able to bag contracts for project implementation in which we have proven expertise," said Mejie.

Indian companies are keen that in addition to honouring the existing contracts for supply of medicines, food grains, sugar, tea, equipment and educational materials, they bag more contracts for supply of relief material.

"We see scope for Indian companies bagging contracts worth another Rs 20 billion for supply of tea, sugar, wheat, rice, medicines and disposable medical items. Some of the other items that can be supplied at short notice include LPG cylinders, educational materials, pesticides, water pipes and soyabean meals," said Agarwal, president of Cosmos Group.

So far, barring what has already been shipped, tea, rice and wheat have not been included in the priority item list of the UN.

First Published: Apr 10, 2003 17:44 IST