Millennium Post

‘No political intention behind subsidy cut to Bhutan’, says MEA spokesperson

India said Monday it looks forward to ‘intensive consultations’ as soon as a new government is in place in Bhutan and denied there was any political or other intention in the subsidy cut of kerosene and cooking gas to the Himalayan nation.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said: ‘We expect intensive consultations as soon as a new government is in place in Bhutan.’ To a query on subsidy cut, he clarified that ‘the issue of subsidy relates to the delivery mechanisms of India’s development partnership with Bhutan, it has no political or other intentions.’

‘We will certainly engage with Bhutan on this,’ he said.

He also clarified that it was not ‘the intension of India to in any way adversely impact on the poor in Bhutan or on people in Bhutan in any manner’.

India ‘looks forward to engaging on this matter with Bhutan as soon as possible’, he said. India had cut off the kerosene and cooking gas subsidy to Bhutan last month as the 10th Plan, under which India was providing such assistance, expired 30 June. The spokesperson described the election process in Bhutan, in which the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) emerged victorious, as the ‘consolidation of democracy’ in the Himalayan country.

The PDP won the elections, capturing 32 seats, while the incumbent Druk Phuensum Tshogpa of former prime minister Jigmi Y. Thinley could manage just 15 seats in the 47-member National Assembly. The elections were Bhutan’s second parliamentary elections since the country became a democracy in 2008.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Sunday written to PDP leader Tshering Tobgay, congratulating him on his party’s victory and promised India’s ‘steadfast and unflinching support’. He also assured that New Delhi will remain ‘sensitive to Bhutan and its interests’ and said he has instructed his officials to ‘prepare for the discussions on our plan assistance to Bhutan’.
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