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Wary MEA moves quick to cut graft

According to official sources, the ministry is still in the process of working out the guidelines to choose the new monitors, which are expected to be in place within a few months.

Published: 12th May 2013 10:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th May 2013 11:45 AM   |  A+A-

In the odious backdrop of corruption scandals exploding in the face of government ministries, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is being extra cautious. It does not want even a whiff of graft to surround any of its development projects abroad. These are vital instruments for India’s foreign policy to strengthen its sphere of influence, especially in Afghanistan and Africa. The MEA is thus consulting the Central Vigilance Commission on appointing “independent external monitors” to give an unbiased opinion about the execution and progress on big contracts. These appointments will be part of a new pre-contract integrity pact, which has to be signed by any bidder for any tender issued by MEA for projects that are worth Rs 50 crore and above.

According to official sources, the ministry is still in the process of working out the guidelines to choose the new monitors, which are expected to be in place within a few months.

In recent years, the Indian government has been ambitious in its plans to spread its footprint through highly visible mega projects—from the Rs 540 crore multi-modal Kaladan project involving Myanmar to spending Rs 1500 crore on the Salma hydroelectric dam project in Afghanistan, as well as setting up a score of technical institutes across Africa. India is also operating 165 lines of credit across the world, ranging from $800 million to Bangladesh to over $8 billion for the entire African continent.

The increasing foreign aid portfolio had raised concerns among parliamentarians, with the standing committee on external affairs quizzing South Block officials last month on whether there have been any reports of unfair practices during tendering or any excess payments for any projects.

The ministry told the parliamentary panel that it had “no confirmed reports” of unfair practices, but admitted that there had been delays.

 

The Sunday Standard



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