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Prospect of British aid flood

Calcutta, Nov. 9: The British government’s development aid agency is likely to raise its assistance to Bengal by eight to 10 times.

“There is a possibility that the grants will be increased to £70 million per annum from £7 million in the next three years,” said Shumon Sengupta, the representative of the Department for International Development (DFID).

Sengupta and DFID consultant Basaw Raj will meet industries minister Nirupam Sen, chief secretary S.. Roy and other top government officials to chalk out plans for the next three to four years in Bengal.

“DFID has already completed drafting its country assistance plan, which now awaits the Centre’s clearance. We will discuss our future plans with the Bengal government in the next few days and frame a state assistance plan,” Sengupta added.

The agency will discuss areas where it is already working with the government and how more programmes can be devised.

“The meetings between November 11 and 14 will be the first in the series of interactions we will have over future plans with increased funds,” Sengupta said.

Programmes the agency assists focus on primary health, primary education, urban poverty, rural development and decentralisation, improvement of governance and restructuring of public sector enterprises.

Sengupta said some new areas like gender and vulnerable communities might be added.

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