The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Monday, 11 February, sent the much-awaited report on the controversial Rafale aircraft deal to the president and the Finance Ministry. The CAG report will be tabled in the Parliament on Wednesday, 13 February, a day before the end of the present Lok Sabha Session.
Top sources in CAG have confirmed to The Quint,
“The pricing of the 36 Rafale fighter jets deal has been redacted in the CAG report on the request of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). And this is not for the first time, in the past, the price of other defence deals were redacted in the CAG report on MoD’s request, keeping in line with the security concerns. Though, we have given our view on the pricing.”
The centre point of the Rafale deal controversy is the price at which it has been purchased by the Modi government from the French company Dassault. The deal became the controversial political issue with the main opposition party Congress levelling allegations of corruption and impropriety.
The Opposition had been claiming that the 36 Rafale fighter jets were purchased at an inflated price, causing loss to the exchequers.
“We would’ve like to mention the price of the Rafale jets but we cannot surpass MoD’s request,” said sources.
The CAG report has been titled ‘Capital Acquisitions In Air Force’ and it is divided into two volumes. The first volume comprises of 10 Air Force deals while the second volume has solely dealt with the Rafale deal.
“It was essential for us to dedicate one full volume on the Rafale deal because of the controversy surrounding it. The MoD extended full cooperation in sharing all the relevant documents and details pertaining to the deal. We are satisfied with the report.”
The CAG or tcomprises of 141 pages, of which 32 pages are on the Rafale aircraft deal, said sources. The Quint has also learnt that the report covers the period from 2012 to 2018. Out of 11 Air Force deals, 5 were finalised during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and 6 were finalised during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
‘No Mention of Offset Contract In the CAG Report’
Sources have also confirmed that this particular report doesn’t mention the offset contract of the Rafale deal. A separate CAG report is being prepared which deals with the Rafale offset contract and other offset contracts in MoD.
"“The offset contract CAG report is in progress but it cannot be tabled in the present Parliament Session. There is a separate division in the MoD which deals with the offset contract. We have got access to some documents and some are awaited.”" - Top CAG Sources
The CAG report on the offset contract is also likely to mention why Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) didn’t become the offset partner of the French company Dassault, said CAG sources.
The Congress-led Opposition has relentlessly been raising questions on the financial terms of the agreement, alleging that the BJP-led government favoured business tycoon Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence at the expense of the state-owned HAL.
While the BJP government had defended itself by saying that it had “no role” in selecting Reliance Defence as the offset partner for Dassault Aviation.
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