'Policy for production of arms in final stages'

'Policy for production of arms in final stages'

India is in an advanced stage of developing a policy to encourage domestic defence manufacturing to reduce armed forces’ dependency on import, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said.

“India is the world’s largest arms importer, spending some 1.8% of its GDP on defence. It imports about 70% of defence equipment, a proposition the government wants to change,” Jaitley told a meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry here on Friday.

The policy would make India a manufacturing economy instead of being a mere buyer, Jaitley said.  The defence minister was also silent on the status of the much-touted “strategic partnership” his predecessor Manohar Parrikar spoke about to rope in private companies into the defence business.

Parrikar had finalised a new defence procurement policy and changed the blacklisting rules. But without the strategic partnership model in place, India is unlikely to see a major ‘Make in India’ thrust in the defence sector.

The strategic partnership model plan envisaged forming a business venture between a foreign vendor, an Indian private company and a defence public sector unit. Each of the combined entity would then receive long-term orders from the government to make aircraft, warships, submarines and artillery guns.

While two expert panels have already reviewed the idea, the ministry is continuing its internal consultation to find out whether the idea is legally tenable in the existing format.

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