Parrikar rules out disinvestment of def PSUs, OFB

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Panaji, March 30: India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Tuesday ruled out disinvestment in the defence public sector undertakings as he asserted that there are certain areas where the role of these institutions cannot be taken over by private players.

“To create trust is my motto in the department (defence ministry) itself. We are maintaining a big armed force not with an expectation of war. No one likes war. Even staunch hardliners would say war is the last option,” he said at ASSOCHAM’s Global Investors’ Summit organised on the sidelines of the ongoing Defence Expo at Betul-Naqueri village.

The minister said that although there is no war-like situation, the ministry spends Rs 3,41,000 crore on the maintenance of the defence forces.

“This we have been doing for the last 68 years. It is the eventuality (of war) which requires us to do this,” he said.

“Similarly, the requirement of defence forces prompts us to create capabilities for certain products which may not be required continuously by us. This expertise which is  built up cannot be retained by the private sector as it includes costs,” the minister added.

A particular type of ammunition may be required once in three years, he said, adding that in such a case, for two years, Ordinance Factories Board (OFB) has to retain the capability, technology and manpower without putting these to use on a regular basis.

“Retaining the Ordnance Factories Board and defence PSUs for certain products is a necessity for the defence forces. In the private sector, the moment I cease to give you orders,  you will shut down,” he told the meet attended by global investors.

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“Only the government can afford to sustain such capacities that are created for a number of years for future requirements,” he said, adding that “the first target of my ministry is not procurement but to ensure that the  armed forces are provided the best equipment”.

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