Thursday, November 25, 2010

SCOOP: Ric Birch Slams Commonwealth Games Organisers and Indian Govt

This is an open letter from Commonweath Games International Creative Consultant Ric Birch. Reader comments follow at end.
He reveals a staggering series of problems including non payments and equipment stranded in India six weeks after the Games!

He says:
I wish to bring to your attention the shameful behaviour of those members of Indian Government agencies who were, or continue to be, responsible for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games......
You will see from the attached letters and papers that despite the enormous success of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the Delhi 2010 organizers and agencies have refused to make final payments to any of the international service providers, despite fully executed contracts being entered into by the organizing committee. Even worse, the government Customs department is totally unable or unwilling to re-export all the contractors equipment that was imported to India on temporary carnets for the ceremonies ! This means that all the lighting instruments, all the audio equipment, the aerostat logistics and support equipment and the pyrotechnic control equipment is simply sitting in containers in Delhi because of the incompetence of government officials and Organizing Committee personnel.

It is extraordinary, because India claims to be a growing economy that is interested in exporting to the world - but the inability of Indian government agencies to handle a straightforward import/export transaction makes it doubtful whether any international company can rely upon India's ability to conduct business in a proper manner. The following is an extract of a letter from one of the suppliers whose goods are stranded in Delhi due to the combined incompetence and intransigence of the Organizing Committee, the Indian Customs Departmnent and Agility - the official supplier of freight forwarding services to the Organizing Committee.

I have been in contact with some of the other contractors and specifically with the project manager from the communications company involved in the project. He tells me that he spent many days at the OC offices in his prolonged stay in India to try and clear his freight for export. He also visited the customs container terminal twice aswell.

When he visited the terminal for the first time, on a Friday afternoon, he was told by one official that everything for these exports is to be done exactly by the book and following all the necessary details. On the following Monday when he went back to the terminal to further investigate the process he was told by a different official that "no-one there was prepared to be involved with processing any freight for export used on the Commonwealth Games". When asked what the problem was, he was told that because of all the corruption charges no-one wants to be involved with clearing CWG freight in case they lose their job.

If they follow all the rules I cannot see why they would lose their jobs ?

In his visits to the customs terminal and conversations with officials there he was also told that special conditions for the import of freight for sole use of the CWG were put in place. However no such special conditions were arranged for the re-export of the same freight. As a result Indian customs do not know how to deal with the CWG freight and are scared of losing their job if they do process it.

As has been proven time and again, the Organizing Committee were only interested in making themselves look good and lost interest completely as soon as the Closing Ceremony finished.

Shovana Narayan's title is Special Director-General of Ceremonies. An email to her from one of the contractors describes his frustration in finding Shovana in central India, rather than attending to her Commonwealth Games duties.

Further to our telephone conversation.
We demand and expect immediate payment of all our outstanding amounts today.
We have supplied every element of our end of the contract to the highest possible standard, but the OC continues to fail to meet its contractual obligations of making the payments in terms with the contract.
We can no longer accept any more delays or excuses and will initiate legal action to pursue all payments, plus additional equipment rental fees and damages, if payment is not made with the next 24hours and evidence of bank documentation of such payment is faxed or email to us.
I trust you will ensure that all person's at the OC are informed and advised by you to ensure this payment is made today.

The level of frustration among contractors shows up most clearly when staff of the Delhi 2010 organising committee reveal their complete lack of qualifications or experience for their jobs, as in the following masterpiece from Mohib Jaffrey,  the person at Delhi 2010 in charge of Logistics and Freight - who has been totally unable to arrange re-export of the containers which were his responsibility. Instead he lists the documents that he was meant to prepare, but has not.

Let me just explain the entire process involved in getting the GR Waiver..
The Documents namely Import invoices,Packing list,Duty Exemption Certificates,Bill of ladingy/AWB, Undertaking, Export Invoice & packing list, FEMA letter for request, Orignal Triplicate copy of Import bill of entry are first attested & checked by Logistics Dept & Finance Dept.
Once the above mentioned are checked & verified then they get submitted in the Bank where the bank takes their own time 3-4 days a minimum to re-check them.
Then the bank issues the GR waiver which is done on the basis of each shipping bill individually.
Queries if any with respect to any of the 10 submitted documents exist then the same need to be addressed, failing which we go back to the first stage of compiling the desired bunch of documents all over again.
As we understand that each & every shipment is EXTREMELY urgent hence we want queries if any to be addressed immediately.
Hence we request the Agents to assist up to the stage of getting the GR waivers from the bank.
With each passing day we understand that the frustrations are increasing all over hence to avoid delays we solicit your co-operation.
As a matter of fact since yesterday the bank too has witheld the issuance of GR waivers as they have sought clarifications of the same from their regional offices.
Would update you accordingly.
Thank you

We wrote to the following people to alert them to our problem: NONE of them responded:
MIKE HOOPER - CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation
SANJIV MITTAL - Deputy Chairman Delhi 2010
SINDHUSHREE KHULLAR - Secretary-General of the Sports Union
RANDHIR SINGH - Indian Delegate to the IOC
JARNAIL SINGH - CEO Delhi Organizing Committee
RAM MOHAN - Director of Legal Dept. Delhi 2010
STUART CORBISHLEY - Deputy Director of Legal Dept.
Group Capt'n K.K. REDDY - Finance Director Delhi 2010
J.J.THOMPSON - Special Advisor from Prime Minister to Delhi 2010
S.S.ROA - Special Advisor from Prime Minister to Delhi 2010
AMARJ SINGH - Special Advisor from Prime Minister to Delhi 2010
SHOVANA NARAYAN - Special Director-General Ceremonies and Culture Delhi 2010
INDU ANAND - Deputy Director Ceremonies and Culture Delhi 2010

What is required to obtain normal business courtesies in India ?

Certainly this type of behaviour makes it extremely unlikely that any of the interrnational suppliers, consultants and contractors involved in Delhi 2010 would in any way support or endorse any future attempt by India to host the Olympic Games, should India decide to make a bid. The behaviour of the organizers and Indian government agencies has been so shameful that any international company must beware of entering into any business contracts with Indian government agencies.

Ric Birch
CEO Spectak
International Creative Consultant to the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games

1 comment:

  1. Anyone who had taken the trouble of consulting the World Bank's 'Doing business in' report or, for that matter, anyone who had contacted foreign companies already based there would have known this was bound to happen. Business ethics, speed and cooperation of indian officialdom are mutually exclusive concepts.

    I have been doing business in India for 14 years and get by ok, keeping in mind the following rules:

    1) If they can cheat you, they will.
    2) A rupee once handed over is never returned, no matter what the contract says.
    3) Getting help from officials is as likely as recovering a loan from a drug addict and vastly more risky.
    4) If at any point the above rules do not seem to apply, they SURELY apply.

    Hence the importance of agreeing on everything and not making a single move without having received payment in full, in advance.