Thoughts on economics and liberty

Why this sub-Third World behaviour? Please pay Australian contractors

It is shocking that problems of the Delhi Commonwealth Games are going on, with contractors from Australia still not having been paid by India.

It is this kind of behaviour – what can be called लीचढ़ in Hindi (someone/something so pathetic one can't possibly explain how pathetic) – that makes one's head hang in shame. One's sense of disgust is overpowering.

My recent personal experience with some officers of the Indian government has been extremely poor, as well. I won't name them, but they are absolutely THIRD RATE. One can't begin to describe the sense of disgust experienced when interacting with such officials. They specialise in spreading a terrible stink of incompetence and oafishness everywhere they go.

Much as I'd like to ask Australians to try to engage with India, I worry about the RUIN that they may face.


Indian givers slammed for not paying the Delhi Games bills
by: Glenda Korporaal

RIC Birch is one of the most famous Australians in the event management business, having been involved with ceremonies for the 1984 Los Angeles Games, the 1992 Barcelona Games, the Sydney Games of 2000, the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the Shanghai Expo of 2010.

But his experience — and that of many other small Australian companies that did their best to help out the organisers of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 — should not be forgotten in our new official eagerness to do business with India.

Anyone wanting to do business with India would do best to heed some of the lessons of those Australians and others who got their fingers burnt by the Delhi Games

Birch was one of many specialist international consultants (many of them Australian or British) who were only too glad to help stage the Commonwealth Games in India.

Many, like Birch, had worked on sporting events around the world, some much larger than a Commonwealth Games. The Delhi Games were an international, government-backed event, and the supplier companies negotiated contracts through lawyers in the belief that the Indian legal system was akin to the system used in Britain and Australia. What could possibly go wrong? [Sanjeev: superficial similarities hide GREAT differences in incentives and competence]

Birch today is still fuming about his treatment by Delhi organisers, who have not only not paid the money due to more than 20 small businesses around the world but, in an attempt to avoid payment, retaliated by hitting out at their professional reputations.

After years of battling to be paid, Birch says there is "no sign that the Indian government intends to honour its contacts with companies who provided creative and technical skills to the organising committee, including mine."

He is still owed about $US325,000 ($313,000) while international sports news event company, Infostrada, estimates it is down about $US600,000.

"I learned the hard way that India is no place to do business," a still very angry Birch told The Australian this week.

"Back in 2009 we rather foolishly and innocently believed that if the Indian government was prepared to spend 10 weeks negotiating a contract in excruciating detail, using an Australian lawyer as its negotiator, the organising committee could be trusted to make payments in accordance with that contract.

"In my personal experience with organising committees and government agencies in many parts of the world, there have never been any problems with payments, except with the Indian government, which turns non-payment into an art form that recognises bald-faced lies as a negotiating tactic. Julia Gillard should be extremely wary of anything that is said to her officially and should be highly sceptical of any undertakings made by the Indian government.

"It is no coincidence that international investment in India has dropped dramatically since the Commonwealth Games; telecom licence fees and power outages and scandals have exposed pervasive corruption in all levels of Indian government."

Sydney-based journalist Steve Dettre, who runs the event services side of the European-based Infostrada Sports, says his organisation has written off the $600,000 it is owed by Commonwealth Games organisers.

He estimates that there are more than 20 international companies still owed as much as $90 million from the Games organising committee.

"People talk about the BRIC economies — Brazil, Russia, India and China — but for me, India is still a long way behind having the accepted business practices you would expect."

Dettre said he was advised it would not be worth his while to battle for the payment through the Indian courts.

Significant ill will remains among those still unpaid for their work on the Commonwealth Games in India.

The people involved may be only small fry, but their attempts to get paid for their services have left bitter memories.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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