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Ficci may have to foot extra bill for NRI meet
Shweta Rajpal Kohli in New Delhi | January 07, 2003 13:35 IST
The budget for Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas is set to exceed projections. To be held in New Delhi during January 9 to 12, it will be the largest gathering of overseas Indians.
Initially pegged at Rs 3-4 crore (Rs 30-40 million), the budget has been revised to Rs 11 crore (Rs 110 million). The organisers of the show - the ministry of external affairs and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry - admit that they expect it to breach the Rs 11-crore mark as well.
The portents are ominous for Ficci, which may end up with the additional bills. After agreeing to split the Rs 11-crore budget equally with Ficci, the government has decided against contributing any further.
"We have decided that we will not give more than Rs 5.5 crore (Rs 55 million), the rest will come from Ficci," ministry of external affairs secretary J C Sharma said.
At the same time, the search for a title sponsor for the event is still on, though ICICI Bank and Satyam Infoway have been roped in to offset a part of the cost.
Organising the logistics has inflated the budget. With no auditorium big enough to accommodate 3,000 people, it was decided to construct a special auditorium-cum-conference hall at Pragati Maidan for around Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 million).
"We have taken up around 15 halls at Pragati Maidan. We are also constructing a special Pravasi Bharatiya Nagar," a Ficci functionary said.
In addition, Wizcraft is being paid around Rs 2 crore for two entertainment nights, when Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and other stars will be performing.
The hospitality being extended to some of the visiting NRIs also comes at a cost. "Every VIP will have a probationary officer and a car," informed Ficci.
Around 100 cars and 35 buses have been hired for the delegates. Each delegate is being given a photo-identity card. More than 100 officials from the ministry of external affairs and Ficci are being posted at the airports, where special counters will receive the delegates.
However, the organisers do not seem unduly worried about the escalating costs. "The cost will be offset by benefits like a boost to tourism," said Sharma.
"Even in this dull season, more than a thousand hotel rooms have been booked by the delegates in the city. The airlines also have an added passenger load factor," he said. The organisers are also hopeful that foreign direct investment will see a rise after this event.