France earmarks $1.8 bn for development schemes in India

September 10th, 2008 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 10 (IANS) France has earmarked nearly $1.8 billion for funding development projects in India, a French government official said here Wednesday.“France had so far been deeply involved in cultural and political ties in India, but now we are entering the development sector,” said Agence Francaise De Development (AFD) chief executive Jean Michel Severino.

AFD is the French government’s main operator for disbursing bilateral development assistance. It has a separate subsidiary, Proparco, which provides financing solution to the private sector.

The French agency has allocated an exposure of one billion euros ($1.41 billion) for India over the next five years, with another 300 million euros ($424.1 million) through Proparco.

The annual commitment is of at least 150 million euros.

In India, Severino said AFD would provide financial support to public enterprises, private companies or non-government organisations, focussing on areas such as energy efficiency, climate change, urban development, forestry and agriculture.

“The amount may be small compared to other players, but we may be able to make significant impact if they are implemented in specific areas,” he said.

So far, AFD has been concentrating on Africa, with a late entry into Asia this century. While its office was established in India a year ago, development assistance got a fillip following the visit of French president Nicolas Sarkozy in January.

Currently, both sides are negotiating a framework agreement between AFD and the Indian finance ministry’s department of economic affairs, which officials hope will be signed during the Indian prime minister’s visit to france towards the end of September.

Welcoming the recent decision of Nuclear Suppliers Group to give a waiver to India, Severino said nuclear energy was part of the solution for diversified energy mix for an energy-deficient India.

Severino had been meeting with officials in the finance ministry, Planning Commission and Bureau of Energy Efficiency.

He also had a meeting with the prime minister’s special envoy on climate change, Shyam Saran.

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