Hinting that corruption was deep rooted as far as procurement and deals were concerned, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the last decade was a “loss decade” for the armed forces.
Speaking at the Agenda Aaj Tak – 2014 conclave, the minister advocated defined representatives from defence firms instead of agents.
He said the government needs to decide how long banned firms like Finmeccanica were going to remain banned, and should the government deal with subsidiaries of such firms.
Asked about former defence minister A.K. Antony, who is known to be an honest man, Parrikar said just honesty was not enough.
“Just honesty will not bring solutions. I can vouch for my integrity. I believe to stay clean here (defence ministry) is easier than in Goa. Corruption is not just about money, it’s also nepotism and other things,” Parrikar said at the conclave.
“I agree Antony may have clean image. That does not mean cleanliness was there in procurement,” he said.
“It was a ‘loss decade’ for the armed forces, but ‘gain decade’ for many others,” he said.
“I have heard that many agents (involved in defence deals) have made bungalows in Delhi with the kickbacks,” he added.
The minister also said that while the government wanted to stop the middlemen and agents lobbying in defence deals, a mechanism to have defined representatives from defence firms was also under consideration.
“I will say proper representatives (from defence firms) shall be there. There should be very clear agreement deposited with the defence ministry in advance and a very heavy penalty should be levied if you go wrong. Punishment should be punitive in nature,” he said, adding that it is just “loud thinking”.
“We need a clear policy, for example Finmeccanica has been blacklisted. They have 39 subsidiaries. Do we rule ourselves out to deal with all 39? I don’t think so. There shall be clear policy for that… what does blacklisting mean?” he said.
Parrikar said delays in clearance of defence projects was another reason which increases the role of middlemen.
“The more the delay, the more agents are kicked in,” he said.