This refers to the front-page report “CAG exposes govt’s financial faults” (September 9). There was widespread discussion when the decision to buy or lease 50 aircraft was announced in 2005. It is indeed sad that the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) report came six years too late. With such tardy audit and oversight processes there can never be actual cost saving but only subsequent lamentation and analysis. A huge single order gives enormous bargaining power to the purchaser, and Airbus and Boeing could have been negotiated down to give huge discounts. Also, India should have got a big offset as is done in defence contracts. It is a pity that most of the media coverage on this news touched on the political fallout and not the real financial issues. This is a case for the Central Vigilance Commission to look into from the angle of potential breach of ethical standards. If anyone believed that a merger of two weaklings can produce a world-beater, then that person doesn’t deserve to be in any position of power. The Air India board cannot wash its hands off by saying it was only rubber-stamping a government decision or by referring to a report prepared by a big international consulting firm.
Bhaskar Sen, Kolkata
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