Bhutan appreciates India for extending Standby Credit Facility, currency swap of USD 200 mn, ET EnergyWorld

New Delhi: Bhutan on Wednesday appreciated India for extending Standby Credit Facility at the reduced interest rate and extended settlement period, and for providing an additional currency swap support of USD 200 million, according to India-Bhutan joint statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs.

India also agreed to positively consider Bhutan’s request to extend an additional Standby Credit Facility (SCF) for a period of five years, it said.

Bhutan also noted with satisfaction the timely flow of funds from the Government of India (GoI) to ensure smooth and uninterrupted progress of projects under the 12th Five Year Plan with about 90 per cent of India’s committed plan assistance to Bhutan already released.

To take this exemplary development partnership forward, India agreed to step up support for Bhutan’s 13th Five Year Plan which was welcomed by Bhutan, joint statement said.

Both sides reviewed various elements of bilateral hydropower cooperation and expressed satisfaction that projects totalling 2136 MW, which have been jointly set up, are functioning well. Both sides also welcomed the recent handing over of 720 MW Mangdechhu HEP to Bhutan, added the statement.

Hydropower cooperation has been the cornerstone of the India-Bhutan bilateral economic partnership. It has been a productive arrangement for both countries whereby Bhutan receives a steady stream of revenue from the sale of power from hydropower plants which have been jointly developed and India benefits from the assured supply of energy. The role of hydropower projects in helping the Bhutanese economy during the COVID-19 inducted global economic slowdown was noted in this context.

In terms of ongoing projects, both sides reiterated their commitment to finding a technically sound and cost-effective way forward for Punatsangchhu-I HEP, the statement said.

Both sides expressed satisfaction with the progress in the construction of the 1020 MW Punatshangchhu-II HEP and looked forward to its commissioning by early 2024. Both sides noted that the tariff discussions had been initiated and agreed to expeditiously conclude the tariff protocol for this project, read the statement.

On the periodic revision of the tariff of Chhukha HEP, the Bhutanese side welcomed India’s offer to revise the tariff to Rs 3 per unit, which represents a 17 per cent increase over the earlier tariff.

Bhutan thanked India for enabling the import of power from India to meet Bhutan’s energy deficit during the winter months. India agreed to positively consider Bhutan’s request for sale of power into the Indian Energy Exchange from the 64 MW Basochhu HEP.

Both sides also reiterated the importance of cooperation in hydropower sector and the urgent need to review and finalize modalities for new projects including Sankosh HEP, read the statement.

India assured consideration of Bhutan’s request for access to financing and market for power sale for new and upcoming hydropower projects in Bhutan.

It was also agreed to extend India-Bhutan energy partnership in the area of non-hydro renewables, such as solar and wind as well as in green initiatives for e-mobility. India assured necessary technical and financial assistance for projects in these areas.

On the proposed trilateral hydropower cooperation among Bhutan, Bangladesh and India, both sides expressed their commitment towards greater sub-regional cooperation, including in the energy sector, which would lead to increased inter-linkages between the economies for mutual benefit of all stakeholders, added the statement.

The two sides welcomed the growing strength of bilateral trade and economic ties.

To further expand bilateral cooperation on trade, technology, cross-border connectivity, and mutual investments, following was agreed upon: To work on long-term sustainable arrangements for the export of agricultural commodities; To explore long-term bilateral arrangements for assured supply of critical commodities to Bhutan such as petroleum, fertilizers, and coal; To consider setting up the first Integrated Check Post along India-Bhutan border near Jaigaon and Phuntsholing; To take forward the project on the proposed cross border rail link connecting Kokrajhar in Assam to Gelephu in Bhutan; To expedite the operationalization of the Third International Internet Gateway for Bhutan; To take forward development of inland waterways connectivity and to work towards opening of additional Foreigners Check posts between Bhutan and Assam to facilitate the entry and exit of third country nationals between India and Bhutan by land rout, added the statement.

In terms of new areas of partnership which now encompass Startups, Space and STEM education, both sides welcomed the exceptional progress made in the space sector cooperation, including the recent launch of the first satellite jointly developed by India and Bhutan and the inauguration of the satellite’s ground earth station in Thimphu.

At the invitation of the President Droupadi Murmu, King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck paid an official visit to India from April 3 to 5.

During his visit, he held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The King of Bhutan and Prime Minister Modi held discussions on the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation and on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction on the manner in which India and Bhutan assisted each other in the fight against the COVID pandemic. They agreed to closely work together for progress and development in the region as economies recover from the pandemic, it said.

PM Modi reaffirmed India’s deep commitment to unique ties of friendship and cooperation with Bhutan and reiterated continued and full support to the socio-economic development in Bhutan.

Guided by the philosophy of Gross National Happiness, and in consonance with the priorities of the people and Royal Government of Bhutan, both sides recognized that the long-standing Bhutan-India development partnership, is reflective of strong ties of friendship and cooperation based on trust and mutual understanding.

  • Published On Apr 5, 2023 at 03:14 PM IST

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