India increases funds for Bhutan

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s Union Budget declaration on February 1, 2023, saw Bhutan receiving Indian rupee (Rs) 2,400 crore, as aid, which is a slight increase compared to last year, when Bhutan received Rs 2,266 crore. This constitutes 41.04 % of development assistance under India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and is the largest compared to other countries.

Indian media reports say that this is in line with India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy. “The largest share of India’s aid portfolio is towards Bhutan, which constituted 41.04 per cent of the development assistance by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA),” Indian media reports say. The overall budget allocation for MEA saw a hike of about 4.64 per cent to Rs 18,050 crore, from Rs 17,250 crore in the previous fiscal year of 2022-23.

Indian media has also quoted the budget document stating that the increase in the overall budget allocation for the Ministry of External Affairs is aligned with India’s foreign policy objectives and expansive development partnership footprint of the country.

Within South East Asia, FM Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget this year saw India increasing support for the Maldives, while there is no change for Afghanistan.  On the other hand, budget support for Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mongolia, Mauritius and Seychelles has been decreased this year.

Presenting the budget, the Indian Finance Minister (FM) said that the world has recognized India economy as a bright spot. India's growth at 7% in current fiscal is highest among major economies. Indian economy is on the right track, and heading towards a bright future, FM Sitharaman said in her budget speech.

Per capita income has increased to Rs 1.97 lakh. At the same time, India's economy has grown from 10th to 5th largest in the world in the last 9 years, Sitharaman said in the Union Budget speech.

India Budget 2023 is being presented at a time when the major advanced economies in the world are crippled by a slow down and are even staring at a possible recession.

In this backdrop, the Economic Survey still expects India’s GDP to grow between the 6-6.8% range, maintaining its tag of being the fastest growing economy in the world.

What also bodes well for the GDP growth prospects is that the Survey has said that

India’s recovery from the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic is complete.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu