Bhutan received the largest share of India’s aid pegged at Rs 2,400 crore in the Finance Budget 2023-24, while Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earmarked Rs 990 crore for India’s G20 Presidency that began on December 1, 2022.
In line with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, the largest share of India’s aid portfolio is towards Bhutan, which constituted 41.04 per cent of the development assistance by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
The increase in the overall budget allocation for the Ministry of External Affairs is aligned with its foreign policy objectives and expansive development partnership footprint of the country, the budget document said.
Within the neighbourhood, Afghanistan, which is suffering unprecedented economic catastrophe under the Taliban regime, the budget allocated Rs 200 crore, same as last year, while Maldives got Rs 400 crore in aid that will be mainly used up in the ongoing development work there focussed on connectivity projects such as the Greater Male Connectivity Project.
The overall budget allocation for MEA saw a hike of about 4.64 per cent to Rs 18,050 crore, from Rs 17,250 crore in the previous fiscal of 2022-23.
The allocation for Chahbahar Port in Iran has also been maintained at Rs 100 crores, underlining the ministry’s focus on connectivity projects, said a note by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Allocations for G20, SCO Summits
The budget made a special allocation of Rs 990 crore for the several events, meetings and the main G20 summit that India will host this year.
The MEA said this is indicative of the significance India attaches to this premier forum for global economic cooperation, representing around 85 per cent of the global GDP, over 75 per cent of the international trade, and about two-thirds of the world’s population.
India took over the presidency of G20 in December 2022 for a period of one year, at the end of which a summit will be held, most likely in Delhi. This G20 is “expected to be one of the highest-profile international gatherings to be hosted by this country”, the MEA said.
India will also be hosting the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
Specific allocation has been earmarked for hosting all SCO related meetings culminating with SCO Summit this year, the MEA added.