— Raksha Mantri (@DefenceMinIndia) December 14, 2017
National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 14 December 2017
“Even though the Defence sector is now open, we are very clear that the benefits have to reach the SMEs of India,” she said addressing the 90th Annual General Meeting of FICCI.
Sitharaman commended FICCI on its 90th AGM which she said comes at a time of transformational changes in India. “FICCI’s 90-year old experience is very vital for the Government which will greatly benefit from it,” she said, welcoming the role that FICCI was playing as a bridge between the Government and industry. “The inputs and papers from FICCI tell us where the action needs to be,” she said.
Sitharaman informed industry that the Government was making sure that every private sector investment is on a data pool and the government would benefit from this exercise.
The Defence Minister called for more meaningful engagement with FICCI on start-ups so that this sector gets activated. Under the Technology Acquisition and Development Fund which has been created, eight projects have almost fructified and were about to be sanctioned while close to another 24 projects were in the process of coming through the Technology Acquisition and Development Fund.
Lauding the valuable work done by her predecessors, Sitharaman said her ministry was speeding up many of the decisions taken by them and there was now a lot of activity in the Defence sector. Procurement meetings were being held twice a month along with simplification of processes and the Government was on a mission mode on ensuring greater transparency in Defence with devolution of powers to respective quarters for expeditious delivery. “Designing, development and manufacturing by India would have to have speedier traction,” Sitharaman said.
The Defence Minister said that a major review of the Ordnance Factories was on the anvil factoring in their integration and what needed to be given to them. The Defence Ministry has also directed the Defence Research & Development Organisation to identify the patentable products that could be commercially used. With India emerging as a major consumer of arms, efforts were on to see how much of this requirement could be produced in India and how much could be sold outside India.
Speaking about other major initiatives by the Government in Defence, Sitharaman told industry that her Ministry was also identifying organically grown small scale industrial units producing components for a wide range of Defence needs, from heavy vehicles to aerospace, to engage with them. The Defence Minister said many of these units had sprung up alongside industrial corridors as in Hosur and Ennore and held great potential to develop as critical parts of the supply chain for the Defence sector – from armoured vehicles to aircraft. This was with an eye on the future, to see whether these units were capable of producing what India needed 50 years on.
Welcoming the Defence Minister, FICCI’s outgoing President, Pankaj R Patel, said that Sitharaman has been a source of great enthusiasm in her encouragement to the industry.
FICCI’s incoming President Rashesh Shah said that industry would be happy to partner the Government in its efforts to bring in change in Defence procurement.