NEW DELHI: There has been a sharp jump of 78.5 per cent in the plan funds for the Ministry of External Affairs in the 2014-15 Union Budget with the overwhelming part of the increased amount going to Bhutan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first foreign destination.
When compared to the revised estimates for 2013-14 at Rs 11,793 crore, the overall budget for the MEA in this fiscal has risen to Rs 14,730 crore, an increase of 24.9 per cent. The plan allocation rise has been the most impressive, Rs 5,100 crore this year, compared to Rs 2,800 crore in the revised estimates for 2013-14.
Out of this plan fund, Rs 4,724 crore, a whopping 95 per cent, will be spent for the construction of big hydropower projects in Bhutan.
With a budget of Rs 14,730 crore, the MEA has got about 72 per cent of its requirement -- falling in line with the trend of the last few years. “We have been getting around 60-70 per cent of our demands,” he said.
The biggest rise has been in aid to Bhutan, which has been allotted Rs 6,074 crore, out of which Rs 4,724 crore is for planned fund and another Rs 1,350 crore is for non-plan. That means, Bhutan has got a jump of Rs 1,000 crore from the provisional budget, when it had got a total allocation of Rs 5,050 crore. Another crucial neighbour, Afghanistan saw a rise of Rs 76 crore in its allocation to Rs 676 crore.There is no change in the aid allotted to Bangladesh, Nepal and African countries which was Rs 350 crore, Rs 450 and Rs 350 crore respectively in the provisional budget. But, compared to revised estimates of previous fiscal, Nepal saw an increased allotment of 18 per cent and Bangladesh had a decreased allocation of 39 per cent.
For Africa, there was an increase in 40 per cent compared to the revised estimates of last fiscal. Incidentally, India is expected to host the third edition of the India-Africa Forum Summit in the second half of the year. Sri Lanka saw an increased aid allocation of 21 per cent at Rs 500 crore. Myanmar allotment also saw a similar increase for the same period of 23 per cent.