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Govt mulling legalising arms reps: Parrikar

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PANAJI (PTI): Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said the Government is planning to legalise representatives of various foreign arms companies in the country for speedy purchase of military hardware.

"We will allow company representatives. They will be middlemen. When I say middlemen it doesn't mean commission agents or 'dalals'. He will be a company representative in India," Parrikar told PTI.

The Minister said the company representative can work on a fee basis. "He will be the information provider," he added.

"Several times we require feedback and also someone who can get us information. There are some foreign companies which want to come to India... they can't go on sending their people here," Parrikar said.

He said the concept of legalising middlemen has not been given a final thought.

"I am throwing this idea open, its not a decision. This is loud thinking. Reactions and feedback is invited from public," he said.

The Minister said middlemen can be permitted to charge expenses from parent companies for representing them in the country.

Earlier, Parrikar had said that a "clear-cut" policy will be unveiled next month on engaging representatives for arms purchases that will also provide for punitive action against firms found involved in kickbacks.

"We should be in a position to have a very clear cut policy by January on representatives and on blacklisting," he had said, promising a raft of measures to ensure transparency and at the same time speeding up such purchases to modernise the armed forces.

Parrikar, who assumed charge of Defence Ministry a month ago, said having representatives with a very clear method of payment and fees was a better solution to the defence forces than delaying the procurement procedures.

India's military procurements have been dogged by long delays and allegations of graft and many defence experts had suggested legalising "agents" for speedy purchase of military hardware.

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