Check regulatory censure, probe fears in defence biz: Ambani

Check regulatory censure, probe fears in defence biz: Ambani

Check regulatory censure, probe fears in defence biz: Ambani

Within days of his Reliance Group foraying into defence business, industrialist Anil Ambani today said the sector was "hamstrung" by fears of regulatory censure and investigative overreach and the government needs to address these concerns.

He also pitched for replacing "the long shadow of the three Cs – CBI, CVC and CAG" with two new Cs of Courage and Conviction.

Ambani said that the fear of these 3 Cs have led to "a lack of initiative and decision making at all levels of the government. This needs to change and we need to have the two Cs – Courage and Conviction."

After Ambani's remarks on '3Cs', Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar intervened and said, "there is another C that is corruption and if this C is tackled, then all the other 3Cs would cease to exist and nothing can stop the progress of the defence sector".

Giving an example, Ambani said the bureaucracy has been given protection in the case of the coal block auction wherein the bureaucracy has necessary protection and similar initiatives can also be taken for defence procurement.

Reliance Group is present across a number of sectors including telecom, power, financial services and infrastructure. It recently set up three companies for its foray into the high-growth defence and aerospace manufacturing sector, which is estimated to touch a market size of USD 100 billion in 10 years.

In an opening speech at a CEO meet here at Aero India air show, Ambani suggested a Sovereign Defence Fund on PPP model, while he also sought infrastructure industry status to aerospace to pave way for easier credit and a greater role and opportunity for the private sector in the defence field.

He said the government can hold 49 per cent in this fund, while private defence sector players can make up for the balance, with no player being allowed more than 5 per cent.

The fund can be professionally managed to invest in long- gestation R&D projects and facilitate strategic global acquisitions in key technology areas of defence and national security, he added.

"We need to accord infrastructure industry status to aerospace, thereby paving the way for easier credit and a greater role and opportunity for the private sector," he said.

The industrialist said: "India is truly blessed to have some of the bravest soldiers in the world, modern warfare cannot be won by valour alone."

"Almost all the submarines currently operated by the Indian Navy are past their operational life, while the Indian Air Force flies the MiG-21 aircraft of the 1970s vintage," he said.

Talking about defence manufacturing, he said India is seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and is projected to be the world's largest economy by 2024, but it remains a net importer of defence equipments unlike most other major powers in the world.

"Being safe, cautious and indecisive in decision making has led to the Armed Forces facing the consequences; suffering with poor equipment. This is truly a travesty," he said.

Ambani said India's record in the aerospace industry, unlike space or nuclear technology, is nothing to be proud of. The modernisation of India's armed forces cannot be held hostage to mindless "vacillation and indecisiveness".

"Indeed, delays in defence procurement have perhaps caused a greater loss to the exchequer than any alleged impropriety. The road ahead is long. But with the leadership we've got, we have our best chance of success ever," he said.

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