NEW DELHI: India assigned on Tuesday 200 crore as aid to Afghanistan in its budget for 2022-23, signals New Delhi’s continued commitment to the country destroyed by war, even if it made an expenditure of 100 crore for the development of Iran’s Chabahar port.
The government also proposed a waiver of 360 crore as aid to the Maldives, a key component of India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy, and 600 crore for Myanmar, which is currently facing an economic crisis in the wake of last year’s coup and the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
These allocations are part of the total expenditure of 17,250 crore for the ministry for the next fiscal, down from the 18,155 crore allocated in 2021-22. The revised estimate for the ministry’s expenditures in the current fiscal was 16,000 crore, and people familiar with the matter said the figure was lower than normal because activities such as foreign visits and projects were affected by the pandemic.
As usual, India’s close partner Bhutan got the lion’s share – 2,266 crore – of the total expenditure of 6,292 crore as aid to foreign countries during 2022-23. However, this was much lower than the 3,005 crore allocated for Bhutan in 2021-22.
India has not recognized the Taliban line-up that seized power in Afghanistan in mid-August last year following the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani government, but has said it will continue to provide assistance to the Afghan people. t are currently struggling with a humanitarian crisis. The people quoted above said the allotment of 200 crore as aid to Afghanistan reflects the government’s continued commitment to the Afghan people.
“It’s a signal that India is not shutting down,” said one of the people.
The amount allocated for the next fiscal will be used to cover expenditures related to projects implemented by India in Afghanistan, to provide aid and humanitarian assistance and to cover existing arrangements such as scholarships for Afghan students, the people said.
The allocation for 2022-23 was lower than the expenditure of 350 crore for the current fiscal.
Following the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, India emerged as the largest regional donor to the country with promises of nearly $ 3 billion. India has carried out several major infrastructure projects, including the construction of a new Parliament building, the 218 km long Zaranj-Delaram motorway and the $ 290 million Friendship Dam. However, India – funded development projects came to a halt after the Taliban takeover.
India has brought 6.6 tons of medicine and 500,000 doses of Covid-19 faxes to Afghanistan and is working with Pakistan to transport 50,000 tons of wheat across land routes. This aid has been welcomed by the Taliban.
The government also made an issue of 100 crore for the development of the Chabahar port of Iran – the same as the allocation for the current fiscal – as part of the efforts to stimulate the prospects of the facility on the Gulf of Oman for connection with Afghanistan and Central -Asia. India and the Central Asian states are exploring the possibility of forming a joint working group on the use of Chabahar port.
India has pledged $ 85 million in subsidies and a $ 150 million loan facility for the development of Shahid Beheshti terminal in Chabahar port, for which the US has granted a special exemption from sanctions imposed on Iran.
In the budget for 2022-2023 was also an expenditure of 900 crore for Mauritius, 750 crore for Nepal, 300 crore for Bangladesh, 200 crore for Sri Lanka, 14 crore for Seychelles, 12 crore for Mongolia, 250 crore for African countries, 140 crore for Eurasian states, 40 crore for Latin American countries and 150 crore for developing countries.
There was also an allocation of 447 crore to support international training programs. Expenditure on embassies and missions was hike from 3,240 crore during 2021-22 to 3,769 crore in the next fiscal.