BJP to seek clarification over bar on PSUs from IAF aircraft tender

New Delhi, Oct 9 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday said it will seek a clarification over Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel questioning the barring of Public Sector Units (PSUs) from bidding for Indian Air Force aircraft tenders, but added that there should be no compromise on quality and competitiveness.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, who was reacting to Patel's strongly-worded letter to Defence Minister A.K. Antony complaining about the Air Force's decision to not allow public sector units (PSUs) to participate in a global tender for supply of 56 transport aircraft, said he is not aware about the contents of the letter.

"Ultimately, the aircraft should be purchased on the basis of competitiveness, cost competitiveness, technical competitiveness and caliber of the aircraft. So, you can't compromise on quality. But having said that, you can't prohibit Indian PSUs from participating in the process of tendering. So, that seems to be a logical thing," said Javadekar.

"But I don't know the details of it. So, today we have the Standing Committee meeting of the Defence Committee, Parliament related Defence Committee. Where we will definitely raise this issue and seek a clarification," he added.

In his letter, Patel has questioned the Air Force's decision, contending that PSUs should be given an equal opportunity and a level playing field".

"This being a government/public procurement, an equal opportunity and level playing field is required to be provided to all capable entities irrespective of being 'Public' or 'Private' in nature. This will also encourage healthy competition," NDTV quoted Patel, as saying in his letter.

"There are many PSUs who meet all the prescribed criterion for participating in this tender, but are being denied the opportunity to participate in this tender only because they are PSUs," he Patel said in the letter, adding that no private entity was in a position to meet the requirements of the Indian Air Force just yet and asked the Defence Minister to reconsider the decision.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) had earlier in July this year decided to replace its ageing fleet of AVRO planes, mainly used as transport aircraft, with new planes at a cost of around Rs. 13,000 crore.

Media reports say that the Ministry of Defence plans to encourage private players in the sector to tie up with these manufacturers for producing the said aircrafts in India. Currently, only Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a PSU, has the required expertise for such production. (ANI)

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