In line with India’s foreign policy objectives and expansive development partnership foot-print, in the Union Budget for the FY 2024 there has been an overall increase in the allocation for the Ministry of External Affairs.
This year India is holding G20 Presidency, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Presidency and Chairship of the Wassenaar Arrangement.
In the allocation made there is around Rs 990 crore towards India’s G20 Presidency. This according to sources is indicative of the significance that India attaches to G20 is indicative of the significance India attaches to this most important forum for global economic cooperation. The G20, as reported earlier, represents around 85 percent of the global GDP, represents over 75 percent of the worldwide trade, and holds about two-thirds of the world’s population.
Later this year in September the G20 summit is scheduled to take place in New Delhi and this will be one of the highest-profile international gatherings to be hosted by India.
Financial Express Online has reported that India has assumed the Chairmanship of SCO and is set to host the SCO Summit this year. And for this meeting specific allocation has been set aside for hosting all SCO related meetings which will culminate with the Summit level meeting later in the year.
In FY2024 Development Partnership portfolio comprising Ministry’s Aid-Heads, continues to be a priority and it has aggregated at 32.40 percent of total budget allocation.
In-line with country’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy, in this year’s budget the largest share of India’s Aid portfolio is towards Aid to Bhutan of Rs 2400 crore, there is a slight increase compared to last year of Rs 2,266 crore, and it constitutes 41.04 percent of MEA’s development assistance.
Under Aid to Maldives there is an enhanced allocation of Rs 400 crore. This has been made to meet the requirement of funds for the ongoing projects including High Impact Community Development Projects, the UTF development project, and Greater Male Connectivity project among others.
Though India does not recognize the Taliban regime in that country, budgetary allocations under Aid to Afghanistan are retained at Rs 200 crore. This is in line with India’s special relationship with the people of Afghanistan and unwavering commitment. This is the second year in a row that India has continued its monetary support to Afghanistan which fell to Taliban 2.0 in 2021. In 2022-23 India had allocated Rs 200 crore however this was revised to Rs 350 crore. India has been sending humanitarian aid and wheat, and vaccines to that country.
Look East Policy
Integral to India’s Look East Policy, there is an increased allocation of funds for ongoing construction activity in Nalanda University.
Several countries saw a decrease in allocation like Bangladesh, Mongolia, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Seychelles.
In the budget for 2023-24 India has set aside Rs 200 crore for neighbouring Bangladesh which was the same earlier. Last year India had set Rs 750 crore for Nepal. This year there is a dip with the aid standing at Rs 550 crore.
From Rs 200 crore Sri Lanka saw a cut of Rs 50 crore bringing it down to Rs 150 crore.
As compared to last year’s Rs 12 crore for Mongolia the budget stands at Rs 7 crore.
In Myanmar, though India is involved in major connectivity projects from Rs 600 crore in previous fiscal it will now receive Rs 400 crore.
Indian Ocean Region
For the next fiscal support for Mauritius stood at Rs 460 crore compared to Rs 900 crore earlier and for Seychelles it has come down to Rs 10 cr from Rs 14.06 crore.
For International Organisations
BIMSTEC Secretariat gets Rs 17 crore; SAARC Secretariat Rs 12 crore; Rs 200 crore for UN; and Rs 12.34 cr for Commonwealth Secretariat.
Chabahar Port in Iran
There is no change in the allocation for the Chabahar Port as it remains Rs 100 crore, same as last year’s. This port is very important for connecting India to its west – Iran, Central Asia and beyond and Afghanistan.
Rs 1002.78 crore has been made. This will help in the implementation of Passport Sewa Project V2.0; fulfill commitments towards issuance of e-Passports and ushering technological upgradation of passport services to citizenry.
There is an increased allocation for e-Migrate Version 2.0. This helps in technological upscaling of services which will help to facilitate significant worker outflow from the country. And it will foster end-end linkage between workers, employers abroad, clearance systems and will also enable the government to issue online Emigration Clearance (EC), and more.
Budget Estimate (BE)
Allocation for MEA is Rs 18,050.00 crore which is Rs 800.00 crore more around 4.64 percent higher than the allocation of Rs 17,250.00 for 2022-23. This BE is also 6.34 percent more than Revised Estimates for 2022-23 of Rs 16,972.79 crore.
For the next FY the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) outlay has gone up by 7 percent from Rs 1416.23 crore in FY2023 to Rs 1520.21 crore in FY2024.