Dismissing reports of hard ball negotiations during the latest round of 11th plan talks between officials from Bhutan and India the GNHC Secretary Karma Tshiteem said that talks with the Government of India was very ‘positive’.
Bhutan has requested for grants in three main packages of Nu 45 bn for the 11th plan, Nu 5 bn as an Economic Stimulus Plan and Nu 3.9 bn for spillover activities from the 10th plan.
Karma Tshiteem said, “We are hopeful that when the Prime Minister visits India in the coming days all the requests will be met through a formal announcement in Delhi.”
According to plan talk officials the talks went very well and there were no indications from the Indian side to show that they would turn down any Bhutanese requests.
Karma Tshiteem said that some earlier reports in the media where only ideas being thrown around and could not be seen as the final conclusion of the 11th plan talks.
A media report had earlier said that the Indian delegation was skeptical on the Nu 5 bn stimulus plan.
However, the GNHC Secretary said, “It is not true that the Indian side turned down the 5 bn request but Bhutan put forward its needs along with justifications to the Indian side.”
A media report had also said that of the Nu 1 bn the Indian government was willing to fund only the balance amount since Nu 800 mn had been collected from within the country.
Here Karma Tshiteem said, “In fact the Nu 1 bn for the reconstruction of the Wangdue Dzong comes under project tied assistance where GoI would put up Nu 900 mn and Bhutan would only have to put in 10 percent which is around Nu 100 mn.”
He said that the money collected within the country would be used for the precious Nangtens within the Dzong.
The GNHC Secretary said that there was no change in the overall assistance asked for and expected for the 11th plan at Nu 45 bn.
He said the only significant change was that without affecting the overall project assistance all project tied assistance projects in the 11th plan would require a 10 percent top up from the RGoB coming to around Nu 2.554 bn.
He said this was being done to ensure better ownership and accountability in the projects.
The Bhutanese side also said that the request for the Nu 3.9 bn as spillover for works from the 10th plan was also put across to the Indian side.
Karma Tshiteem said that it was not true that the Indian side had decided not to release funds for the fourth batch of SDP projects under the 10th plan coming to around 660 mn. He said though there were some issues the Bhutanese side had explained to the Indian side that the fourth batch was carried out in the spirit of friendly cooperation between the two countries and was an example of success in bilateral cooperation.
Karma Tshiteem said that of the 45 bn Nu 28 bn would be in project tied assistance projects covering mainly big projects, Nu 8.5 bn in Small Development projects which would mainly be for the new governments local government pledges like power tillers etc and Nu 8.5 bn in project grant support or budgetary support for capital activities where the government could freely use the money.
The change according to plan officials was that before the plan talks Bhutan wanted Nu 11.5 bn in SDP and Nu 25 bn in project tied assistance which after the plan talks became Nu 8.5 bn in SDP and Nu 28 bn in project tied assistance.
He also said that both sides also wanted to increase the Small Development Grants project of Nu 30 mn each to a higher ceiling so that bigger projects could be under taken.
The Bhutanese plan talk officials will be leaving few days before the Prime Minister visits Indian in the coming days to sort out any last minute issues so that a formal policy announcement can be made on the 11th plan.