India’s assistance to the Tenth Five –Year Plan (2008-13) of RGoB
In May 2008, while addressing a Joint Session of the Bhutanese Parliament, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh announced that India’s total bilateral economic commitment to Bhutan’s 10th Five Year Plan (2008-13) (including hydropower projects) would be Rs./Nu. 100 billion. Out of this, the GoI committed assistance worth Rs. / Nu. 3400 crores, for funding projects in key socio-economic sectors such as agriculture, ICT, media, health/ hospitals, education/schools, capacity building, energy, culture and infrastructure etc. Some of the important projects executed under the 10th FYP include construction of the Supreme Court, strengthening of Constitutional Offices like the Royal Audit Authority, Election Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission and Office of Attorney General, renovation of important Dzongs, preparation of DPRs for the new power projects, widening of major roads, scholarships and expansion of tertiary educational institutions.
In addition to the commitment of Rs. 3400 crores as assistance, GoI also funded two major capacity building projects of Bhutan in the ICT (Rs 205 crore Chiphen Rigphel/ Total Solutions Project and health sectors (establishment of Bhutan Institute of Medical Sciences).
The overarching mechanism for discussing India’s bilateral assistance to RGoB (PTA, Programme Grant, SDPs, Chiphen Rigphel and BIMS) is the Annual Plan Talks or India-Bhutan Development Cooperation Talks. The Indian side is headed by Joint Secretary (North) and the Bhutanese side by their Foreign Secretary. The 9th Plan Talks were held in Thimphu, on 5th April 2013. Separately, to monitor implementation and fast track the progress of developmental projects particularly projects funded under the PTA, there is a Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) which meets regularly. The last PMC meeting was held in Thimphu, on 25th November 2012. The PMC meetings are co-chaired by Director (North), MEA, GoI and Secretary, Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) of Bhutan.
Project Tied Assistance (PTA)
Under the project tied assistance, Nu. 20,000 million was committed under the 10th Five Year Plan. Some 71 projects were undertaken in key socio-economic areas of agriculture, ICT, media, health, tertiary education, school education, scholarships, labour and human resource development, roads, energy, civil aviation, urban development, road safety and transport, judiciary, culture, constitutional offices and media. Each of these projects has a specific scope of work, work plan and fund utilization plan. The projects are executed by the RGoB, except for two road projects – Phuentsholing-Thimphu II and Damchu-Chukha bypass – which are being executed by Project DANTAK of the Border Road Organisation of India.
Small Development Projects (SDP)
SDPs are short gestation and community-oriented projects in areas such as drinking water schemes, irrigation channels, farm roads and other infrastructure. Funds under Small Development Projects (SDP) are mainly used for infrastructure development in rural areas of Bhutan which are planned and implemented by the local governments based on the priorities and needs of their respective communities. Focused on basic socio-economic development, these projects are found to be an effective tool for addressing rural poverty as they have a direct bearing on the lives of the grassroots people. Under the SDP, some 1800 projects were completed in the 10th FYP.
Programme Grant is a development subsidy that is released in quarterly instalments of Rs. 35 crore. GOI’s total commitment for PG in the 10th FYP is Rs. 700 crore
In addition to the Plan commitment of Rs. 3400 crores, GoI also funded two major capacity building projects of Bhutan in the ICT (Rs 205 crore Chiphen Rigphel/ Total Solutions Project) and health sectors (establishment of Bhutan Institute of Medical Sciences).