Lower allocation will not impact major projects: MEA

Despite budgetary allocations falling short of expectations, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) does not expect any of its major development projects in the region to be affected, officials told The Hindu.

“None of our strategic programmes is affected,” an official said when asked about the Budget figures. “We will manage within the allocations, which are based on spending quarter-by- quarter.”

Wednesday’s Budget announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave the MEA a grant of ₹14,798.55 crore for 2017-2018. While that is approximately 10% more than the revised estimates of ₹13,426 crore last year, it is considerably lower than the ₹15,262.66 crore that had eventually been allocated for 2016-17, and much lower than what the MEA had requested for the year ahead.

Of the budget allocation of ₹14,798.55 crore, nearly half or ₹6,894 crore will go in aid to other countries; a further 4,485 crores will be spent on embassies and establishment costs, and 3,418.66 crores will go to other expenses including running Nalanda University, South Asian University and the discretionary expenditure of the Ministry.

In terms of the countries that India has extended aid to, Bhutan with several hydroelectric projects under construction receives more than half of the total outlay, but saw a drop of 4% from last year’s revised estimates. India’s development of Iran’s Chabahar has been granted 150 crores this year, up from last year’s allocation of 100 crores. Most other countries on the list, including from South Asia, Africa, Eurasia and Latin America saw little change in the allocations.

MEA sources said some of the fall from allocations requested was due to the fact that several major projects in the region had reached completion or were at points at which large capital was no longer required. In Afghanistan, India has made a shift from the big projects like the parliament building, Salma dam in Herat and the Zaranj-Delaram highway now completed, to focus on smaller projects in education, and local development.

MEA officials also admitted that the larger economic situation in the country has played a role in curtailing its funding. “One reason is definitely the overall budgetary situation of the government, but we have also made our own assessment on our projects and how difficult the situation they are being carried out in. We are confident they won’t be impacted,” an official told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 8:10:30 AM |

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