Expert View: Soft diplomacy will take a hit due to budgetary crunch
The budget presented by Finance Minister P Chidambaram today allocated Rs 11,719 crore to the Ministry as against Rs 10,062 in the revised budget last year.
The total amount allocated for projects including development and direct aid to foreign countries is Rs 6967 crore as against Rs 5471.93 crore in the revised budget of 2012-13.
Also, non plan budgetary allocation for technical cooperation in 2013-14 is approx Rs 4000 crore against a requirement of Rs 7500 crores for already announced assistance projects in the neighbourhood.
However, officials maintain that the hike will not be sufficient to meet India's commitment for various projects abroad in the coming financial year.
A senior government official has said that the budget crunch would have a “severe” effect on India’s plans to extend assistance to key countries though the ministry has taken measures to insulate ongoing projects. "We have been able to protect our ongoing projects like in Bhutan. In Afghanistan, some of our projects are taking certain amount of time,” said the official, referring to the Salma dam being built in Afghanistan’s Herat province, at a revised cost of Rs1,457.56 crore.
In the budget for 2013-14, there is an increase in the aid component for all countries, except for Maldives, for which the assistance amount of Rs 30 crore remained unchanged.
While last year's revised budget for aid to Bangladesh was Rs 280 crore, the figure in this budget
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