The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, on Wednesday, 23 September, pulled up the Rafale fighter jet's French manufacturer, as well as its weapons producer for not fulfilling an offset commitment entered into by them for the transfer of technology to India, reported IANS. This commitment reportedly was part of their 2016 contract for 36 combat jets.
According to NDTV, CAG, in a report, has also “sharply criticised” the Defence Ministry’s policy for offsets, a part of which was the deal with France.
What Did the CAG Say?
An audit report on the Management of Defence Offsets tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. The government auditor, according to IANS, thereby, drew attention to the fact that foreign vendors made various offset commitments to qualify for the main supply contract but, later, did not show keenness to fulfil those commitments
"“In the offset contract relating to 36 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), the vendors M/s Dassault Aviation and M/s MBDA initially proposed (September 2015) to discharge 30 per cent of their offset obligation by offering high technology to the DRDO,”" - CAG, according to IANS.
“Till date, the vendor has not confirmed the transfer of this technology,” the CAG reportedly further said, pointing out that Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) wanted technical assistance for the indigenous development of the engine (Kaveri) for the Light Combat Aircraft.
Further, according to NDTV, the CAG report read that the (Defence) Ministry needs to review the policy and its implementation.
"“It (Defence Ministry) needs to identify the constraints faced by the foreign suppliers as well as the Indian industry in leveraging the offsets, and find solutions to overcome these constraints.”" - CAG
According to The Indian Express, CAG, in its report, shared that 46 offset contracts were signed with foreign vendors totalling Rs 66,427 crore.
Opposition Leaders React
From former finance minister P Chidambaram, who asked if the CAG report is the opening of a can of worms, to Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, various leaders of the Opposition have come forward to state that the Rafale deal “was bad for India.”
India got 36 Rafale combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation in government-to-government contract.
According to IANS, the fighter aircrafts have HAMMER missiles, which are to be equipped with “beyond visual range” missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday, 10 September, said that the induction of the Rafale aircraft is a "strong message for the world and especially for those who challenge India's sovereignty", in what could be seen as a message to China amid the ongoing standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
The first batch of five Rafale aircraft were formally inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Air Force Station in Ambala, with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly in attendance.
Along with Singh, French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, was also the chief guest at the programme.
After the induction ceremony, the two leaders also held a bilateral meeting. Addressing the media after the meeting in Ambala, Rajnath Singh said he has invited French defence manufacturers to invest in the defence corridors of India.
(With inputs from NDTV, The Indian Express and IANS.)
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