US enhances India funding to support ‘role as regional leader’, combat growing authoritarianism

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President Joe Biden meeting with Prime Minister Modi Sept. 24, 2021. Photo Twitter @PMOIndia

US President Joe Biden has proposed to increase the developmental assistance to India in clean energy, digital economy, and also in combating increasing authoritarianism.

The proposed increase in India’s developmental assistance from $25 million in 2021 to $66 million is part of the State Department’s developmental assistance for fiscal 2023, which was sent by the White House to the US Congress on Monday.

Overall, the administration has proposed $302.2 million in developmental assistance for South Asia to promote sustainable development to resist harmful economic practices and unsustainable debt. Funding will also combat climate change by increasing investments in clean energy and adaptation to climate risks, it said.

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“The funding increase for India supports India’s role as a regional leader by increasing clean energy and other climate programming. Funds will also advance investments in the digital economy,” said the State Department’s portion of the budget.

“Assistance will combat increasing authoritarianism, bolster human rights and strengthen civil society participation and democratic governance,” the State Department said.

The Biden Administration has also proposed to increase aid to India on the health sector from $34.5 million in 2021 to $48.5 million in 2023.

The State Department also cited a program Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) to India as one of its success stories. With OTA support, India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs made significant progress in its Smart Cities program to promote issuance of local project debt by cities, the State Department said.

“Local debt issuance – in its infancy in India – helps to foster greater ownership and improved planning of infrastructure and development projects, which currently range from water treatment to improved local transportation,” it said.

OTA previously worked with the Indian municipality of Pune to help facilitate its first bond issuance in 2017. Based on this success, OTA and the Ministry of Housing of Urban Affairs expanded collaboration to include six additional cities — Vadodara, Pimpri Chinchwad, Rajkot, Faridabad, Mangaluru and Mysuru.

According to the State Department, OTA is working with the cities in coordination with the ministry to help incorporate best practices and lessons learned from the US municipal finance system, enable better project vetting and monitoring, improve disclosure to investors, and lower the cost of capital for the regional capital improvement plan.

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