New Delhi, Dec. 15: Keeping up the pressure on George Fernandes, the Congress has come down heavily on his ministry’s inability to spend plan allocations for defence modernisation.
Armed with the latest report of a parliamentary standing committee, Congress chief spokesman Jaipal Reddy said the defence ministry was guilty of grossly under-utilising defence funds under the planned expenditure category.
The committee, he said, had made critical remarks on non-utilisation of funds during the last plan period. Further, the ministry was yet to come up with projections for the 10th plan period, he added.
One of the casualties of the ministry’s inability to spend allocated money was that it was yet to procure one lakh bullet-proof jackets for soldiers at an estimated cost of Rs 150 crore.
As the matter concerned safety of jawans, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee should offer an explanation, Reddy said, and more so since he was responsible for reinstating Fernandes as defence minister. Fernandes had resigned in the wake of the Tehelka arms scandal and almost all Opposition parties were against his re-induction.
Reddy also came down heavily on the government for its alleged indifference towards findings of parliamentary standing committees. “The Prime Minister needs to explain all these to the country. We are concerned. The standing committee serves no purpose if its unanimous reports are not taken seriously,” he said.