Payment to SIS Live with ministry’s approval, says Lalli

Monday, October 25, 2010

NEW DELHI - Prasar Bharti, the host broadcaster for Commonwealth Games, Monday denied any wrongdoing in the award of contract to Britain-based entity SIS Live for the Games coverage, saying the payments were “approved at the highest level” of the information and broadcasting ministry.

“Payment was made according to a payment schedule approved at the highest level,” Prasar Bharti CEO B.S. Lalli told mediapersons here.

Lalli, who was accompanied by Doordarshan Director General Aruna Sharma, said the norms specify that any proposal above Rs.20 crore needs approval from the minister. He said that 60 percent payment of the contract has been made to SIS Live and it was done according to schedule approved by the ministry.

Denying allegations that he overruled suggestions of withholding payments to SIS Live till it was investigated, Lalli said all due processes were followed and decisions were in taken an transparent manner.

On the allegations of SIS Live subcontracting its work, Lalli said works of this nature have sub-contracts but Prasar Bharti will find out the details.

“We have come to know of it now. We will find out about it,” he said.

On the questions relating to service tax number of SIS Live, Lalli said that the payment of this tax was the responsibility of the entity and not Prasar Bharti. He said it was a must for the company to give service tax on time and he had talked to his officials about it.

However, he added that it was not for Prasar Bharti to intervene in issues relating to service tax. Doordarshan was in receipt of a letter issued by Central Board of Excise and Customs showing the service tax number of the entity, he said, adding that SIS Live had informed that they have paid due tax in accordance with the regulations.

Lalli said selection of the entity was made with approval of Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

“The contract was given for Rs.246 crore which was well within the original estimates prepared and cleared at relevant levels,” he said.

Lalli said that agencies kept pushing deadlines for Prasar Bharti to start its work at the venues. “It caused us difficulties but we decided to work without making complaints,” he said.

Doordarshan DG Sharma said there was “no question of changing any clause in the contract after it had been signed.” “The contract is what is approved by the final competent authority,” she said.

She said terms of payment to SIS Live were modified after it threatened to walk out of the contract due to delays in handing over venues. “We discussed it with the ministry and got the 60 percent to 40 percent payment schedule approved from the competent authority.”

“There was no favouritism and we struck to the cost,” she said. The coverage of games had received wide appreciation, she added.

Filed under: Politics

Tags: ,
will not be displayed