The funds include budget for north east-west highway

Grant: After waiting for more than a year and having pre-financed the north east-west highway, the government of India yesterday handed over two cheques amounting to Nu 1.99B to the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC).

Of the total, Nu 1.24B is on the account of project tied assistance (PTA), under which the highway widening works are being executed. The remaining Nu 751.76M pertains to small development project (SDP).

Specifically, the activities include reconstruction of Wangduephodrang Dzong, four different segments of east-west highway, spill overs from expansion of Paro airport, urban infrastructure development in Kanglung, conservation of Phajoding Lhakhang and development of infrastructure and teaching facilities in three colleges and institute.

Part of the fund was also sanctioned as the first instalment of 3rd Batch of SDP.

SDPs are short gestation and community oriented projects, mainly for rural areas, like drinking water schemes, irrigation channels, farm roads, blacktopping farm roads, and bridges, among others.

As for the highway, GoI, as of November 2014, sanctioned Nu 406M, the Department of Roads had to wait for Nu 806M for more than a year. To continue the works, the finance ministry injected Nu 561M from its coffer, pre-financing the work. An estimate of Nu 7.28B for the entire 385km stretch was worked out by the department.

GoI, as per the press release from GNHC has committed Nu 45B in the 11th Plan. PTA financing comes to about Nu 28B in the entire plan and as of date, GoI released Nu 10.35B. The GoI also committed Nu 8.5B as Program Grant (PG) and another Nu 8.5B for Small Development Projects (SDP) during the planned period. So far, the country received Nu 4.25B of Program Grant and Nu 2.97B for SDP.

GoI has released Nu 17.57B, working out to 39.06 percent of total committed allocation in the 11th Five Year Plan.

An official from GNHC, Thinley Namgyel informed the development partner that projects were at advance stage of implementation and efforts were being made to complete most projects as scheduled and requested if remaining release of funds could be processed at an early date.

Meanwhile, pre-financing became an issue in the fourth batch of SDP in the last Plan. The government of India had, in writing, stated that they will not sanction Nu 660M grant for the fourth small development project (SDP) initiated in the 10th Plan.

This was because the previous government did not adhere to the formalities and went ahead with the activity, pre-financing them. The current government had to finance it from their capital expenditure.

The finance minister highlighted this during the second parliament session. He had said that hereafter, the government would sit and discuss with Indian counterparts, and that works would be initiated only after the consent of the Indian government.

Despite the government’s reluctance to resort to pre-financing, in the winter session of the parliament in 2014, the finance minister also informed of the Cabinet’s decision to pre-finance the activities based on national significance and situations because donor funds were released at their conveniences.

Tshering Dorji