Millennium Post

PAC decides to give fresh look to AgustaWestland helicopter deal

PAC decides to give fresh look to AgustaWestland helicopter deal
Public Accounts Committee headed by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge decided to give a relook on the issue of AgustaWestland Helicopter deals which indicted previous UPA government and top officials and defence personnel for violating the procedure for procurement.

Among many other subjects, PAC has selected to scrutinise the CAG report on "acquisitions of Helicopters for VVIPs".

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) submitted a report on the acquisitions of helicopters for VVIP persons(VVIP) on August 13, 2013, and sought to examine the process of acquisitions of VVIP helicopters and its compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure(DPP), the prescribed procedure in the defence services.

In 2010, the Ministry of Defence concluded a contract with AgustaWestland International Ltd, the UK, for the procurement of 12 helicopters at a total cost of Rs 3,727 crore.

The CAG report concluded that the process of acquisition from the rating of quality requirements to the conclusion of the contract differed from established procedure.

After the report presented in the both the houses of Parliament, many members sought an explanation from the government. Exactly one year ago, then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told Parliament that the procurement process was circumvented in the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland.

Before that, an Italy court ruled that the $553 million AgustaWestland contract for buying VVIP helicopters from Italian company Finmeccanica, signed in 2010, involved payoffs to Indian officials.

Participating in the debate, former Defence Minister A K Anthony denied all allegations regarding any wrong doing on the part of the then UPA government but admitted that corruption took place in the helicopter deal and bribes were given. The CBI was persuing the case vigorously, he added.

The sources in PAC has informed that present chairman of the PAC is very keen to look deep into the issue. There is a feeling among some of the opposition members that CAG while inspecting the details of the acquisition issue has not taken some of the arguments given by the ministry.

Among other issues, PAC has decided to look into the "management of defence offsets", compliance Audit of the performance of Ordnance factories, improper management of defence land, a performance audit of planning and management of Refits of Indian Naval ships, performance audit on ammunition management in Army and performance of weapon manufacturing factories.

To go into the details of the report, PAC has constituted eight sub committees .On the scrutiny of KG basin report, Trinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy has been made the chairman of a sub committee.

He will also be the Convenor of the infrastructurre committee, while the Convenor of PPP Projects sub committee will be Shantaram Naik. He will also be the convenor of the defence related subjects.

TMC Lok Sabha member Sudip Bandopadhyay has become the member of this committee. Only Nishikant Dubey – a BJP member has been made the member of this committee, while majority members are from the opposition.

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