Rafale negotiations to begin this month: Manohar Parrikar
“The government-to-government committee will be set up which will begin negotiations on the (Rafale) deal. The negotiations will start anytime in May and we have to conclude them as early as possible,” said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Jean-Yves Le Drian is scheduled to visit India on 5 May and hold talks with Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on 6 May to carry forward the proposed deal. Last month, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris, India and France had agreed to get into a government to government contract for 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition keeping the critical requirement of the Indian Air Force in mind. The deal is estimated to be over $6 billion and will have about 30-50 per cent offset.
Parrikar said the government-appointed committee will complete the negotiations in a “time-bound manner.” Parrikar added, “He (Drian) will visit only for the purpose of working out the modalities and to take the process forward. We will not be directly involved in future talks. The committee is being appointed for it by two governments to kick-start the process and fix the modalities.”
French defence major Dassault Aviation, makers of Rafale, is likely to enter into a joint venture with state-run HAL or any private player to set up a base here for augmenting its existing production line in Merignac in France, defence sources said. Parrikar also said the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) will be in place in the next two-three months and is likely to come up before the ministry in June as there are some chapters that are to be addressed.
“Basically the policy consists of exports, ‘Make In India’ initiative, level-playing field for suppliers, policy on agents, black listing policy besides others,” he said. Parrikar maintained that these are under finalisation and some of them might be notified before the end of June. “But I can say that in next two-three months the DPP will be in place,” he added.
The Defence Minister said the policy for procurements would depend on strategic importance of the deal and its type. He said the Defence Ministry’s committee on DPP will give its report within 45 days. “The committee will go through DPP and suggest amendments in next 45 days. They can also submit their interim report so that some aspects would be dealt in the meantime. You can see lot of procedures coming up in May and June itself,” he said.