VRS Natarajan clarified that BEML has no role to play in this defense controversy and he is ready to explain the company’s position with respect to the contact whenever asked for.
The controversy on defense orders continues to brew. This has some collateral impact on defense public sector unit player BEML . The stock tanked 2.34% on Thursday. Its chairman VRS Natarajan has been summoned by defense standing committee to detail the Tatra truck contract.
Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Natarajan clarified that BEML has no role to play in this defense controversy and no finger of suspicion should be pointed at them. He said, he is ready to explain the company’s position with respect to the contact whenever asked for.
"All the 7,000 vehicles which have been supplied to the Ministry of Defense for the past 26 years are only on account of single enquiry without competitive bidding. Therefore, this controversy of collaborator influencing is made in out of context manner," he said.
Below is the edited transcript of the interview. Also watch the accompanying video.
Q: You have been asked to explain your case on the Tatra contract in front of the defense standing committee, are you sure you will be able to explain your position adequately to them?
A: Wherever we are called we are going to talk the fact that as far as this controversy is concerned BEML has no role whatsoever. BEML has been a single vendor supplier, no competition, no competitor can offer our versatile world class product. All the 7,000 vehicles which have been supplied to the Ministry of Defense for the past 26 years are only on account of single enquiry without competitive bidding.
Therefore, this controversy of the collaborator influencing is made in out of context manner because the intent is made based on the usage in the Directorate in the Indian Army and they have to be approved. Intents are made on BEML to supply. No amount of influencing can increase even one vehicle more than what they wanted. It is not a vehicle that we make and supply, it is made on order and is customised for only Indian defence, nobody else is supplied in Indian context. Therefore, this is unnecessary controversy raised involving BEML collaborator. I don’t think there is any upfront truth in that.
Q: You are saying that it would not even have been possible for this decision to a have been influenced in any way the award of orders because you yourself are saying that it did not go through competitive bidding where it could work both ways, fingers could be pointed at you that since this was almost a unilateral handing of a contract it might have been open to some kind of influence?
A: Absolutely and that too we are not in a position to influence the number. It is user who decides whether it is for capital acquisition or for revenue procurement. They decide the number that they want during the next year, they provide budget and enquiries are given. Only after this we start procuring 40% of components from Tatra, 60% has been integrated already in the country including Euro III engine we are producing in our engine plant. We don’t import vehicle and then supply with BEML’s names.
This is all discussed, out of context; it is Indian owned product, technology has been seized. Therefore there is no need for BEML going around marketing. More than that BEML right from its Chairman that’s me, my Director-Defense and all the team of retired defense officials, Brigadiers and Colonel are going around and following up the order. No single official connected with Tatra even comes for marketing for the last ten years against Chairman of this company. When they are not even coming for normal marketing of the product or follow-up of the orders then where is the question of they coming and influencing for the numbers.
BEML stock price
On November 27, 2014, BEML closed at Rs 699.15, down Rs 3.25, or 0.46 percent. The 52-week high of the share was Rs 877.50 and the 52-week low was Rs 179.00.
The latest book value of the company is Rs 499.40 per share. At current value, the price-to-book value of the company was 1.40.
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