Bigger industry role suggested in defence production

Kolkata, July 4 (IANS) Greater participation of Indian industries is needed in defence equipment production and procurement, especially in the eastern region, and this requires well integrated private-public partnerships, an army official said Thursday.

"India is a fast growing economy, yet it largely relies on imports of defence equipment. It is about time the Indian defence industry delivers and proves its mettle in superior defence preparedness and self-sufficiency in producing defence equipment," General Officer Commanding (GOC) Bengal Area Lt. Gen. A.K. Choudhary said here.

"Many of our private industries are now global players. Now, we want to see more productive roles by all stakeholders in nurturing the private sector. That will cut cost and raise overall national output," Choudhary said.

He was speaking at a seminar 'Industry Defence Linkage', organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Lt. Gen. Choudhary said to match the dynamics of military strength, there was an urgent need for a strong and reliable defence base in the country but the private sector on its part was not really ready for investing in the sector.

According to him, the eastern region needed a bigger push to improve defence industry base as compared to others. Also, the private participation in the sector was not satisfactory in this region.

He said the central government was actively pursuing the goal of procuring defence equipment from within the country.

"The government has recently come out with the Defence Purchase Procedure. All these have given significant boost to the sector," Choudhary said.

Himansu Sekhar Chaudhury, chairman, Ordnance Factory Board, Kolkata, said India was currently importing 70 percent of its defence equipment.

"The trend must change," he said.

Rear Admiral (retd) N.K. Mishra, chairman and managing director, Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. (HSL), alleged that "unfair taxation" was hurting the country's shipbuilding industry.

He complained about the imposition of service tax. "Why this tax was imposed on us? There are a lot of complications," said Mishra.

There were issues also in taxing scraps and raw materials used in manufacturing ships, he told reporters on the sidelines of the seminar.

"At times, there are difficulties in identifying which are imported scraps and which are not during the taxation process," he said.


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