Time to turn the screws
THE new head of government's investment and defence package negotiations team, Jayendra Naidoo, is confident government will be able to deliver on its defence acquisition promises.
The Cabinet last month announced the names of its preferred suppliers for the defence force's R29-billion splash on arms, including four corvettes and 28 Gripen advanced fighters.
Deputy President Thabo Mbeki announced then that government would enter detailed negotiations on defence and civilian industrial participation programmes guarantees, financing and costing with the preferred suppliers.
"It is time to turn the screws, and I am positive we will get somewhere," says Naidoo.
Naidoo heads a five-member International Office Negotiating Team which will negotiate on behalf of government. The team includes Armscor CE Llew Swan, Defence Force chief of acquisitions Shamin Shaikh and two directors from the departments of trade and industry and finance.
The team will also be supported by consultants and experts in the defence and industrial participation fields.
The final decision on whether to go ahead or negotiate with a second preferred bidder rests with a committee headed by Mbeki.
Naidoo and his team will have to wade through the maze of countertrade promises. "The challenge is to ensure the countertrade offers are genuine, can be implemented and have a visible and definite impact," though he admits some of these seem too high.
The preferred bidder promised countertrade investment offers of R110-billion which government estimates will create 65 000 jobs.
Naidoo's team will also have to look at costs and sources of funding.