Noting that public sector plays a dominant role in the domestic defence sector, G Mohan Kumar, Secretary (Defence Production), Ministry of Defence, said the government is taking the challenge of enabling the private sector to play a greater role in defence production.

"In the years to come, this role has to be even or even tilted towards private sector because the role of public sector in defence sector is diminishing in all countries," he said, addressing a seminar organised by the FICCI here.

Kumar observed that the defence industry in all advanced countries, except Russia, is led by the private sector and there was reason why India should not be on similar lines.

Stressing that the defence industry cannot move forward unless the government facilitates the process, he made it clear that effort has to come from private sector also.

"It is not all government and no private sector. The government has to pave the way and the private sector has to take the way," he said.

On the state-run ordinance factories, he said the Ministry has been "hammering" them to make long-term relationship with industries so that they can outsource their products.

"We normally go by the short-term tender route of procuring things where L1 (lowest bidder) is very important. How do we get out of that? We need to develop long-term relationships and that calls for change of procedures, change of tending process. That is a paradigm shift. We are trying to do that," he said.

He said if the government succeeds, it will definitely bring lot of changes in the way ordinance factories procure things.

"It is also true for all public sector undertakings," he said.

The senior bureaucrat, who is in charge of defence production related activities, noted that the sector is dominated by procedures, which, he said, was "very elaborate".

"There must be some reasons for these procedures to be very elaborate because everybody wants make it tamper proof. And in the recent past we have not had good experiences. Lot of things have gone wrong," he said.

Because of this, the Ministry was more sensitive about doing it the right way and in the process, the procedures get very "long-winded and convoluted and sometimes it makes things difficult", he said.

Kumar underlined that export is being given top priority by the government but noted that defence export is not similar to exporting coffee, tea or seafood.

"We cannot rock the boat. If you speak to people from External Affairs, they will explain how sensitive these things are. Inspite of all these problems we are trying to find a way out," he said.

He also rued that the progress in defence offset has been "dismal" and said effort should be made to make offset the engine of growth in the sector.

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