G20 Summit in Delhi: Who Is Footing the Bill of This Big, Fat Indian Event?

Union MoS Meenakshi Lekhi claimed that the Delhi government and the Centre have collectively spent Rs 4,000 crore.

6 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

With India's capital Delhi ready to host the G20 Summit over the coming weekend, the city is dotted with huge billboards – along arterial roads and over government buildings – which read Vasudhaiva Kutumbukam (the world is one family). 

The G20 Summit will see important world leaders from over 20 nations congregating in New Delhi on 9-10 September. The capital city, as a result, has undergone an aesthetic makeover, with murals canvassing the flyovers and sculptures standing tall to welcome the dignitaries.  

Additionally, the designated venues and roads in Delhi have been spruced up with 6.75 lakh flowering plants and foliage. Security, too, has been heightened in the city for the safe ferrying of high-profile diplomats. 

As India preps to host its first-ever G20 Summit, have you wondered who is footing the bill of this big, fat Indian event? 


But First, How Much Does It Cost? 

The Union Budget for 2023-2024 had earmarked Rs 990 crore towards India's G20 Presidency, which had increased the allocation of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) by a marginal 4.26 percent (approx Rs 800 crore) to a total of Rs 18,050 crore. 

Of this, the Centre spent over Rs 50.64 crore on outdoor advertisements linked to India's G20 Presidency between December 2022 and April 2023, according to a response by the I&B Ministry to an RTI application filed by online news publication Newslaundry

Though the RTI response didn't clarify which ministry will pay this amount – Rs 50,64,84,996 – a senior official of the Central Bureau of Communication (CBC) told the news publication that the money will be paid by MEA through the CBC.  

In addition to this, approximately Rs 18.12 crore ($2.18 million) has been spent by the government on leasing at least 20 bullet-proof limousines for ferrying leaders. As many as 450 drivers of the Central Reserve Police Force's (CRPF) VIP security wing have been trained to pilot the special left-hand driven and bullet-protected vehicles, news agency PTI reported.

When Opposition MP Abdul Wahab questioned the ruling government about the total expenditure incurred on events related to G20 on 27 July during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament, the Union MoS for External Affairs V Muraleedharan did not provide an answer to the question. 

Union MoS Meenakshi Lekhi claimed that the Delhi government and the Centre have collectively spent Rs 4,000 crore.

It is noteworthy that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had, while reading the Union Budget on 1 February 2020, allocated Rs 100 crore to preparations for India's G20 Presidency.  

Add to That, the Expenses of the Delhi Government

In addition to the money allocated by the central government, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government, too, sought funds for G20 preparations.  

In February this year, then Delhi Finance Minister Manish Sisodia had written to Sitharaman demanding a sum of Rs 927 crore to speed up preparations for G20.  

In his letter, he had stated, "You would be aware that the Delhi government has not received any financial support from the central government as its share from the central taxes. The Delhi government also does not receive any extra grants from the central government." 

In his letter, Sisodia had asserted that the Delhi government had made a framework for the G20 Summit, which includes infrastructure development as well as proposals for beautification of G20 venues, and that they have been approved by Lieutenant Governor (LG) Vinay Kumar Saxena.  

A report by news agency PTI quoting officials, however, stated that the G20 preparations would cost various Delhi government agencies an estimate of Rs 1,084 crore. According to the report published in February this year, 26 Delhi government departments and central agencies are working on the preparations for the G20 Summit. 

The Public Works Department (PWD), the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), and the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) will mainly be associated with civic infrastructure improvement and beautification work. It is estimated that the PWD, the MCD, and the NDMC will spend Rs 448 crore, Rs 249 crore and Rs 78 crore respectively on it, a senior government officer told PTI.

Moreover, the Delhi Tourism Department has planned programmes with an estimated budget of Rs 72 crore. 


Delhi's Budget With an Eye on G20

In March this year, Delhi's Finance Minister Kailash Gehlot had tabled the Budget for the year 2023-24 with a keen eye on the G20 Summit.  

Laying special emphasis on turning Delhi into a "saaf, sunder aur aadhunik (clean, beautiful and modern)" city, Gehlot allocated Rs 2,034 crore for upgrading and beautifying Delhi's roads and Rs 3,500 crore for modernising public transport. A loan of Rs 850 crore was also extended to the MCD for clearing the waste from huge landfill sites on the outskirts of New Delhi. 

The Delhi government has planned the rejuvenation of 1,400 km of road network, which falls under the PWD, and the work entails "repairing and recarpeting the entire network of roads and footpaths to make them pedestrian friendly, ensuring end-to-end greening of unpaved areas adjoining the roads to initiating regular mechanical sweeping and washing of the entire road network," Gehlot had said in his Budget speech. 

The project also encompasses black topping of the road surface to ensure there are no potholes, repairing zebra crossings and brightening lane markings, removing encroachments, and planting of tress along unpaved paths, among other things.  

Moreover, the Delhi government allocated Rs 772 crore for building 26 new flyovers and underpasses, while Rs 320 crore have been set aside for double-decker flyovers. Hence, the total budget for roads and bridges amounts to Rs 3,126 crore. 

Besides, the Budget mentioned a six-point action plan for cleaning the Yamuna River. 


'Tu-Tu Main-Main' Over Funds 

Delhi PWD Minister Atishi had, last week, alleged that the Centre did not give the Delhi government any money for G20 preparations – and that she was not invited by LG Saxena for any inspection.  

"Till date, the Centre has not given us a single penny for the G20. We had asked for Rs 927 crore, but we did not get anything. We didn't make it an issue, thinking it would reflect poorly on our country. The BJP and the LG are saying they have done everything. This shows their arrogance," Atishi told PTI.  

To this, Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi retorted saying that it was the Centre that bore almost all the expenses, and not the Delhi government.  

"I want to ask why they needed to demand Rs 927 crore given that PWD alone has a budget of Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore. Couldn't they have spent ₹927 crore for developing Delhi?" Lekhi asked. 

She claimed that the Centre had allocated Rs 700 crore for the construction, repair, and beautification of roads in the national capital, and that the PWD and the MCD used these funds for the makeover.  


Put a Number on It 

Lekhi also claimed that various agencies of the Delhi government and the Centre – including the Delhi Police, PWD, MCD, DDA, and NHAI – have together spent an estimated Rs 4,000 crore on preparations for the G20 Summit in the capital. 

According to a document shared by the Union MoS, the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), which comes under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, bore the maximum expenditure of Rs 3,500 crore, followed by Rs 340 crore, borne by the Delhi Police. 

Union MoS Meenakshi Lekhi claimed that the Delhi government and the Centre have collectively spent Rs 4,000 crore.

The document shared by Union MoS for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi


Where do the ministries get this money from? Let us take you back to our Budget 2023 coverage.  

The Indian Economy earns from various direct taxes (such as income tax and corporate tax) as well as indirect taxes (such as VAT, GST, Excise Duty, etc.). So, the expenses are being borne out of the public exchequer or the taxpayers' money.

Countries, which have earlier held the Presidency of the G20, have also spent a significant amount of money on its preparation. For instance, Argentina spent $112 million (approx Rs 931.59 crore), while Germany spent 72.2 million Euros (approx Rs 643.47 crore) during the 2017 Hamburg Summit, according to a research paper by the University of Toronto. 


Why Is G20 significant?

The Group of Twenty (G20) is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US, and the European Union.

The G20 members represent around 85 percent of the global GDP, over 75 percent of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.

India holds the Presidency of the G20 from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023. Forty-three Heads of Delegations – the largest-ever in G20 – are set to participate in the final New Delhi Summit over the next two days.

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