SOURCE: SHAILJA KANT UPADHYAY / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
In India decision making and defense procurement procedure is so cumbersome and complex that even best and fastest of defense acquisition takes at least 4-5 years to complete. These procedure and rules have only become more and more complex thanks to a series of scams in defense procurement starting from 1980’s. Seeing the defense procurement procedures and rules, one can easily confuse to notice, whether the objective of DPP is to get the best equipment for forces in shortest possible time or to prevent scams and entry of middlemen in it.
In the above context, completion of an acquisition process of Rafale aircraft in 12-15 months’ time, which previous governments had failed to seal in last 12 years, raises serious questions on whether the government has followed proper procedures or not. The government is also facing fire from people who don’t know the difference between Rafale and Rafael or between manufacturing partners and offset partners for allegedly not taking due procedures especially the ‘holy’ approval of CCS (cabinet committee on security).
But if we take a quick look at the process and sequence of defense procurement given on chapter 2 page 9, we can see clearly that there is no step given regarding the mandatory CCS approval at every stage at least in Buy category.
It is to be noted that RFI is issued by Defense ministry, SQR are prepared by respective services headquarters, AON is issued by DAC headed by Defense Minister, TEC, field, staff evaluation are done by respective service headquarters, and TOC,CNC are all bureaucratic and services committee comprised of bureaucrats and staff members of service headquarter. It is to be noted that after all the above things are completed (with no requirement of CCS involvement let alone approval) the proposal is then moved to CFA (competent financial authority) which comprises of different committee for different purposes. For proposals of low budgets, CFA approval can be given at lower level as certain financial powers are also given at lower levels to commanders, vice chiefs, chiefs and defense minister and with the rising budgets of procurement, this CFA gets more empowered moving to higher level going up-to CCS in high budget procurement. So this can be easily understood that CFA is not a static body, it can be MOD/MOD and MOF/CSSetc depending on budget of procurement. A few examples of CFA as given in DPP are as follows:
So it can be clearly understood that CCS approval is required only just before the award of contract which was given before signing of IGA in September 2016.
Another allegation that the government facing is starting government to government process suddenly, ditching all the negotiations done before that by previous governments in last 10-12 years. This fact is demolished by a few line of DPP on chapter 2 page 34 para 6 (c).
It clearly states that if the government feels that the requirement is of strategic in nature (as explained in Rafale Saga part 3,void in nuclear delivery role, due to upgrade program of Jaguars (currently having nuclear delivery role) and reliability,serviceability crisis of HAL assembled SU 30s(hence unable to fulfill this role)), government can float the global tender in competitive bidding basis and can involve the government of L1 bidder (converting it into government to government process, French government in this case) if required as decision on transfer of strategic nature equipment cannot taken by a firm, hence involvement of government of L1 is necessary in this case.
NDA government has done exactly this by involving the French government to avoid delays as L1 was already declared by UPA in way back in 2012 and hence converting the process from competitive bidding to government to government process by following well defined procedures and powers allocated to them by DPP.
Also due to high demand on authentication of per unit cost of Rafales of IGA, I am sharing the reply document link of minister of state for defense Dr. Subhash Bhamb reply in Loksabha against unstarred question number 533 on 18 November 2016 in which he said that per aircraft cost of Rafale is approximately 670 crores
Viewers can get this document by going to Loksabha website?Questions?page 3188?question 533?subject (Fighter aircraft of IAF).
Converting above figure in euro at the conversion rate of September 2016 takes cost of each aircraft to around € 91 millions. This figure is also given by Dr Ravi Shankar Prasad in press conference video of which is available on internet.
Hence we can see that there is no violation of rules is seen as alleged by opposition in converting the process into government to government one to negotiate with the government of L1 to save time and get the better deal.