Just weeks after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the plan as part of the Centre’s Covid-19 relief package — OFB employees are unclear how this would help India tackle the pandemic — the ministry of defence (MoD) has invited consultancy firms to chalk out the way ahead.
As per the expression of interest cum request for proposal RFP (Tender) notification, issued through the department of defence production (DDP), the consultant will provide strategic and implementation management consulting services to assist MoD in the process of corporatisation of OFB.
Once selected, the firm will have six months to create a five-year strategic vision and a roadmap to address long-term requirements of the country, to outline various options for corporatisation and evaluate feasibility of various whether OFB should be converted into a single defence PSU (DPSU) or multiple DPSUs. After corporatisation, the DPSU or DPSUs will be registered under the Companies Act, 2013.
The firm will also advise MoD on the kind of organisational structure, define financial and administrative delegation of power, review staffing and skill levels, etc. After reviewing the skill levels of existing staff, the firm will suggest “the optimum redeployment, reallocation and rationalisation of staff keeping in view the new organisation structure and competitive environment,” the notification, a copy of which is with TOI, reads.
Protest & Indefinite Strike
The three federations representing defence workers, the All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF), the Indian National Defence Workers’ Federation (INDWF) and RSS-backed Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS), have jointly decided to fight and not to accept any recommendations of Consultant for corporatising OFB.
An earlier joint appeal of the three federations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Rajanath Singh, urging the government to withdraw the decision of corporatisation is still pending with the government.
“Centre’s game plan stands exposed: On the one hand, the government is staging the drama of high level committee meetings and on the other, it is going ahead with its policy decision. The present government is bent upon destroying all government departments. Therefore, such retrograde steps of the government should be opposed vehemently,” C Srikumar, general secretary, AIDEF, said, adding that the unions will decide on the date to kick start their indefinite strike against the move.
The MoD, however, argues that the transformation of OFB into the proposed corporate entity(ies) would target unleashing a new chapter of growth in the history of OFB.
“It will enhance functional autonomy, efficiency, improve flexibility and dynamism in decision making, help move away from an administrative pricing mechanism to a process of competitive pricing which will bring down the cost for the armed forces and paramilitary forces,” the MoD has said, adding that it will also help government better utilise OFB assets.
The High Level Official Committee (HLOC) of DDP held its third meeting on June 25, but the three employee unions boycotted it.