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Blacklisting vendors hit defence preparedness: Jaitley

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MUMBAI (PTI): Noting that one cannot be "very defensive in the defence ministry", Arun Jaitley has admitted blacklisting vendors one after another has impacted defence preparedness and created a sense of conservativeness in weapons acquisitions, limiting procurement options.

"We have been conservative in the process of acquisition of weapons. We have been way slow with regard to certain decision-making in the past. You cannot be very defensive in the defence ministry," Defence Minister Jaitley said at a media event on Thursday evening.

"In the process you find critical equipment, ongoing contracts, weapons supplied, but spare parts and services are (yet) to be provided. At every stage you have gone ahead and blacklisted people as a result of which your options of acquisition have narrowed down," he said.

On corruption in defence deals, he conceded there are some "invisible people operating" whose presence is not evident on the files.

Jaitley said given the history of corruption in defence deals, his ministry is in a catch-22 situation, caught between the need for probity and pressing challenges in the way of securing the nation.

"One is the public interest of probity. The other is a larger public interest of national security. What do you do?" he wondered and said he will ensure that the Defence Acquisition Council meets at least once every month.

Jaitley also said the private sector would be involved for capacity building.

"We have been very conservative in allowing private participation or even foreign participation. I think there is a lot you can do in the defence ministry," he said, citing a recent contract for transport aircraft where the ministry prohibited state-run firms from bidding.

The Narendra Modi government had recently raised FDI in defence to 49 per cent.

"The idea is people will enter into joint ventures and private sector capacity building will also take place in an area where our capacity is very limited," Jaitley said, explaining the rationale behind the move.

Endorsing the views of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Minister also expressed displeasure with the work done by state-run bodies and laboratories, saying they are slow and call for more competition.

With several of DRDO's programmes running behind schedule, Modi had last week flayed it for 'chalta hai' attitude and asked the defence research body to complete its projects before time to put India ahead in the world.

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India  Defence  Jaitley  Industry  
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