The Ministry of External Affairs has been allocated a budget of Rs 16,061 crores in the Interim Budget 2019-20, with an increase of Rs 1,050 crores over last year's Rs 15,011 crore. The total aid to countries, which has increased by almost Rs 902 crores, stands at Rs 6,447 crores - up from last year''s budget of Rs 5,545 crores. Out of this, Rs 575 crores has been earmarked as aid to the Maldives, showing an exponential increase in aid by Rs 450 crores since 2018-19.
Bhutan consistently continues to receive the largest chunk of the total aid, with a Rs 2,615 crores grant in 2019-20 - down by Rs 35 crores as compared to last year''s Rs 2,650 crores aid.
Mirroring the aid allocated to Chabhar Port last year, the government has again set aside Rs 150 crores in the latest budget for the strategic oceanic port.
Similarly, the aid set aside for Afghanistan (Rs 325 crores), Sri Lanka (Rs 150 crores), Bangladesh (Rs 175 crores), and Mongolia (Rs 5 crores) in 2019-20 corresponds with last year''s budgetary allocations.
The aid allocation for African countries has doubled to Rs 400 crores in this year''s Interim Budget from last year''s Rs 200 crores in aid. In fact, revised budget numbers indicate that India spent nearly Rs 330 crores as aid to African nations in 2018-19. On a similar note, aid to Mauritius has also been doubled to Rs 700 crores in the latest financial plan.
In total, Rs 5,137 crores have been set aside as ''total establishment expenditure of the Centre'', which entails financial plans for ''Embassies and Missions'', ''Secretariat'', ''Passport and Emigration'', and ''Other Expenditure of Ministry''. Out of this, Rs 2,693 crores has been set aside to run India''s mission and posts abroad.
Notably, the revised budget for 2018-19 indicates that Rs 420 crores were spent last year as the "maintenance cost of aircraft of Air India for VVIP travel".
The latest interim financial blueprint was presented in the Parliament by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal here on Friday.
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