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CAG says NDA's Rafale deal 2.86% cheaper; Cong says report not worth its paper

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The secured a 2.86 per cent cheaper price for fighter jets than what was negotiated by the UPA regime, the CAG said on Wednesday, but flagged that removal of 'sovereign guarantees' only benefitted the French manufacturer, and not

The much-awaited audit report on the controversy-hit deal also pointed out that certain India-specific enhancements in the new deal were "not required" and the overruled the Indian Air Force's proposal to reduce the number of these enhancements.

Soon after it was tabled in Parliament, the report was lapped up by BJP to hit out at with senior leaders and ministers from the ruling party asserting that the CAG has exposed "lies" of the opposition party chief, Rahul Gandhi, on the issue and it vindicates their position that got the country a better deal in purchase of 36 fighter jets.

The Congress, however, rejected the CAG audit, saying it was an "eyewash" and "not even worth the paper it was written on" as it did not take into account the "dissent note" of deal negotiators. The party dubbed the CAG as 'Chowkidar Auditor General' and was joined by several other opposition parties in questioning the audit report.

At a press conference, Gandhi alleged that even the "manufactured figure" of 2.86 per cent decline in price shows that Modi, and Nirmala Sitharaman, had lied to Parliament by stating that the price of the "new deal" was 9-20 per cent cheaper than the UPA-era offer.

While CAG was silent on offset partners, a key point on which has been attacking Modi alleging corruption in Anil Ambani's getting a key contract, the also redacted the absolute price details and only referred to percentage change from what were negotiated by the Congress-led UPA in 2007 for 126 jets to those in the final deal clinched by the BJP-led NDA in 2016 for 36

In its 157-page report, the (CAG) observed there was no change in the price of 'flyaway package'.

Of total 11 counts on which the CAG compared the prices, there was no change in the price under total four heads, while prices actually rose on four other counts -- the training of pilots and technicians (2.68 per cent), engineering support package (6.54 per cent), performance based logistics (6.54 per cent) and tools, testers and (0.15 per cent).

On three parameters, the price came down in the NDA deal -- India-specific enhancements (down by 17.08 per cent), weapons package (by 1.05 per cent) and services, and technical assistance, documentation, and programme managements (by 4.77 per cent).

The CAG said the IAF wanted to reduce six India-specific enhancements in the jet under the new deal in view of the "huge cost and reduced number of aircraft", but the overruled it. It also pointed out that there were four specific enhancements in the new deal that were "not required".

The audit report also said the delivery time of Rafale jets under the NDA deal was only a month less than what was negotiated by the UPA.

The CAG also flagged drawbacks of settling for a 'Letter of Comfort' rather than a sovereign guarantee by the and said Dassault Aviation, the French manufacturer of Rafale jets, benefitted from this.

The CAG said the new deal was 6.54 per cent expensive in terms of engineering support package and performance-based logistics for the IAF, while the training costs got 2.68 per cent expensive than the 2007 offer.

In the 2007 offer of 126 fighter jets, Dassault was to provide basic training to 26 pilots and 76 technicians at a certain cost. In 2015 deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets, the IAF increased the scope of training to 27 pilots, 146 technicians and two engineers.

For the overall price also, the CAG has said the new deal is 2.86 per cent cheaper.

had earlier said the deal struck by the was 9 per cent cheaper. Congress, on the other hand, has been alleging that the price increased to Rs 1,600 crore per in the deal signed by the Modi government, as against Rs 520 crore during the UPA time.

Soon after the report was tabled in Parliament, said the lies of the and opposition parties stand exposed as the CAG report outlines that 2016 deal terms were lower in terms of price, faster in terms of delivery, while ensuring better maintenance and lower escalation.

Another senior BJP said Gandhi's "lies" have been exposed by the CAG report and demanded an apology from the Congress

Gandhi, however, said the government's argument on price and faster delivery of Rafale fighter jets has been demolished and alleged that the only reason for the new deal is to give Rs 30,000 crore to industrialist

The government and Ambani have rejected the allegations.

BSP supremo Mayawati dismissed the report as "neither complete nor fully correct" and alleged that constitutional bodies were not been able to work with full honesty.

and Delhi Chief Minister said Modi should speak the truth on the agreement between and

The NCP also questioned the CAG report's "authenticity".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 13 2019. 21:00 IST
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