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National

CAG report on Rafale offset deals only after LS polls?

February 12, 2019 06:05 AM

COURTESY HT FEB 12

Rajesh Ahuja and Rajeev Jayaswal letters@hindustantimes.com ■
CAG report on Rafale offset deals only after LS polls?
NEW DELHI: A report by the government’s auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), into 11 defence deals including the one for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets, was submitted to the President and the government on Monday, clearing the decks for its tabling in Parliament in the next two days, officials familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.

Interestingly, HT has learnt that the report may have sidestepped the controversial offset aspect of the Rafale deal — the opposition alleges that the old deal was scrapped and a new one signed, so as to benefit Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence through an offset deal (a charge denied by all stakeholders) — which will be part of a separate report that deals with offset deals across all three defence services.

“The draft report on the offset deals is ready and it has been sent to the ministry of defence for its comments, which are awaited. Once the comments are received, the final report will be prepared. The final audit report on offset deals may come after the elections,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.

According to officials cited in

the first instance, the report has been divided into two sections — one pertaining to 10 acquisitions and the second, exclusively on Rafale.

The report, titled Capital Acquisitions of the Air Force, looks at major procurements over five years.

The second section is believed to focus also on the contentious pricing aspect of the Rafale aircraft deal.

“The report contains a comparative analysis of Rafale’s pricing vis-à-vis the initial plan to buy 126 jets, including 18 in flyaway condition. The NDA [National Democratic Alliance] government decided to buy only 36 Rafale jets, all in flyaway condition,” added the government official cited above.

The scrapping of the 126 aircraft deal, initiated during the previous United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) regime, by the NDA has become controversial. The Opposition, led by the Congress, alleges that the new price is much higher than the old one, and that due process wasn’t followed (apart from the charge regarding offsets

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