India sets aside over Rs 7,100 crore as development assistance to other countries

·3-min read

New Delhi, Feb 1 (PTI) India on Monday set aside over Rs 7,100 crore in its budget for 2021-22 as development assistance for countries in its neighbourhood as well as in Africa and Latin America, with Bhutan getting the maximum allocation of Rs 3,004 crore while Rs 100 crore will be given to Chabahar port project in Iran.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 18,154 crore to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in the union budget, out of which Rs 7,148 crore has been earmarked as aid to countries.

As per the revised estimates, India's development assistance in 2020-21 was Rs 5,369 crore.

The allocation of Rs 18,154 crore is the highest for the ministry till date and the overall development portfolio including the assistance to the countries accounted for 42 percent of the total outlay.

A significant share of the aid portfolio in the budget is to cater to India's sustained COVID assistance to friendly countries including the supply of coronavirus vaccines as grants under the 'Vaccine Maitri' initiative, said an official.

According to the budget documents, Bhutan will get a total of Rs 3,004 crore compared to the revised estimate of Rs 2,261 crore in 2020-21.

The development assistance to Nepal has been increased to Rs 992 crore from last year's Rs 880 crore while the amount for Afghanistan has been pegged at Rs 350 crore and Myanmar at Rs 400 crore.

Both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will get Rs 200 crore each, while an amount of Rs 250 crore has been set aside for the Maldives, Rs 900 crore for Mauritius and Rs 160 crore for Seychelles.

An amount of Rs 300 crore has been allocated for African countries, Rs 100 crore for Eurasian countries and an outlay of Rs 40 crore was marked for Latin American nations.

Separately, Rs 130 crore has been allocated for assistance to other developing countries.

In the budget, Sitharaman also made an allocation of Rs 100 crore for the development of the Chabahar port. The amount is the same as was allocated in 2020-21.

Located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Iran's southern coast, the Chabahar port is being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan to boost trade ties.

India on Sunday formally handed over two 140-tonne mobile harbour cranes to the authorities of the Chabahar port in Iran and both sides reviewed their overall cooperation in developing the transit hub.

According to the budget documents, additionally, an amount of Rs 476 crore has been set aside for 'support to international training/programmes'.

An enhanced allocation has also been made for initiatives related to the United Nations and other International Organisations as compared to earlier years.

The official said enhanced allocation has been made commensurate with India's expanding diplomatic footprint, with the opening of new missions in several countries.

The total allocation of Rs 18,154 crore to MEA is roughly five percent higher than the budget estimate of Rs 17,346 crore and 21 percent higher than revised estimate of Rs 15,000 crore in 2020-21. PTI MPB RT