'Import ban won't stop forces from procuring niche tech'
Friday - May 22, 2020 3:42 pm , Category : INDIA
New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) Appreciating the self-reliant policy of the government and increase in Foreign Direct Investment in defence sector, Indian Army Vice Chief Lieutenant General S.K. Saini said on Friday that import ban list will not restrict armed forces from procuring niche technologies from abroad.In an webinar organised by the Society for Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), Vice Chief of the Army Staff speaking during the "Opportunities in Capital and Revenue Requirements of Indian Army" echoed the call for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' by the Prime Minister.He said that the announcements made by the Finance Minister on May 17, related to defence production and policy reforms will have a huge positive impact on India's defence acquisition and sustenance.Lieutenant General Saini explained that 80 per cent of the army's capability development and more than 92 per cent of its sustenance budget was based on indigenous products and services."Amongst the game changing reforms planned to improve India's defence capacity are the increase in FDI limits from 49 per cent to 74 per cent, corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Boards, indigenisation of imported spares among other policy norms," the Army vice chief said.He also said that a negative list of import items was also being prepared where large number of indigenous industry and Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) would be given adequate opportunity to fulfill the defence needs.He also said that there was a perceptible shift of dependence of the army from OFBs to private entities in terms of non-core activities and even in the case of certain type of critical ammunition.He expressed hope that other ammunition varieties, including those that were being imported currently, based on the response of the defence industry, will also be added in the list of items to be manufactured indigenously.The Indian Army vice chief, however, assured that the import ban list will not restrict the forces to procure niche technologies from abroad.He urged the startups and MSMEs to come up with sophisticated technical solutions to military challenges and advised that the use of these technologies concurrently in the civil domain will help bring down their costs, making them financially viable in the medium and long term.He said that the larger enterprises will have to act as major hubs of research and development, manufacturing and integration which in turn will provide impetus to the smaller MSMEs to provide them with ancillary support, creating a self sustaining eco system in the long run.