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Sunday 19 January 2020

Rafale engine manufacturer scared of India’s ‘tax terrorism’

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh assured Safran CEO Olivier Andries that India was committed to providing the 'right climate' for investment under the 'Make in India' initiative

Olivier Andries, CEO of the French manufacturer that builds engines for Rafale fighter jets, told Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today that India should provide an attractive business environment with its tax and customs regulations rather than “terrorise” the company. The Safran CEO, of course, cushioned his statement by announcing the company’s plan to invest about $ 150 million in India.

French multinational Safran, the manufacturer of M88 engines that power the Rafale jets procured by India, made a presentation of his facility to the Defence Minister a day after the handing-over ceremony held on the occasion of Vijayadashami and Indian Air Force Day.

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Singh assured the company that India was committed to providing the “right climate” for investment under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. He invited Safran to attend DefExpo in Lucknow in February next year, an invitation that was accepted by the company that would design and develop engines for civil and military aircraft on its assembly line at Villarouche, Reau near Paris.

Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar assured support to the French company, too, and asked them to prepare a document highlighting any “pain points” in their expansion agenda, which would be taken into consideration.

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During the presentation today, Andries revealed plans to invest around $ 150 million in India for training and maintenance. “India is poised to become the third-largest commercial market for aviation and we are keen to build a strong maintenance and repair base in India to serve customers,” Andries said.

“But we need to make sure that the Indian tax and customs system does not intimidate us,” the Safran CEO said.

Andries stated further that the manufacturer had had a long association with India and “all Indian airlines are our customers”. “We are optimistic that they will positively welcome our expansion plans. We want to know how to build and share an engine ecosystem in India.”

Rajnath Singh said in a tweet after the event, “Visited the Engine Manufacturing Facility of Safran at Villaroche near Paris today. Safaran (sic) is known for its engine making capabilities. They have also developed the engine for Rafale”.

“Happy to meet some of the young and bright engineers from India who have come for training at the Safran manufacturing facility. Their technical knowledge and hard work is impressive and inspiring,” he said in another tweet.

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