Jaitley contests Antony statement on Italian firm’s blacklisting

Thiruvananthapuram, April 30 (IANS) Contesting Congress leader A.K.Antony’s claim that Italian company Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland Helicopters, was blacklisted during the UPA’s tenure, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the former defence minister appears to have suffered “a memory loss”.

“He (Antony) says the parent company of AgustaWestland, Finmeccanica was blacklisted by the UPA government. No such thing has happened and I feel he is suffering from memory loss,” said Jaitley, after releasing the ‘vision document’ of the National Democratic Alliance ahead of the May 16 Kerala assembly polls.

“He says that after the UPA government blacklisted the Italian company, the rules was relaxed by the present NDA government after coming to power in May 2014. A company can be blacklisted only if there is something wrong and what he says is his imagination,” added the BJP leader.

The BJP and the Congress for the past one week has been indulged in political recriminations, both inside and outside parliament, on the Rs.3,600 crore deal for VVIP helicopters inked in 2010 with AgustaWestland but subsequently cancelled after allegations of corruption in getting the contract surfaced.

Giving the sequence, Jaitley said: “What happened was was that on May 12, 2014 that as defence minister Antony issued an order directing to stop all dealings with Finmeccanica. The results to the Lok Sabha polls came on May 16 and the present government assumed office on May 26th, so Antony’s order did not come through.

“As then defence minister the file came to me and after studying it on June 9, I issued an order directing to stop all dealings with that company.”

Jaitley said then the issue came before the attorney general and the law officer, after going through the matter, said that since spare parts and other services have to be received from the company, one cannot call off the agreement with them but instead all fresh agreements need not be carried out.

“Based on his (AG’s) recommendation, a new order as per his directions was issued on July 3, 2014… this is what has happened and there was no blacklisting done,” he said



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