Price of Prestige: India's G20 summit spend compared to past hosts

Massive budget overruns in hosting G20 summit raise questions

An image showing G20 nations' flags on display in New Delhi (photo: Getty Images)
An image showing G20 nations' flags on display in New Delhi (photo: Getty Images)

NH Digital

India's G20 presidency has concluded, and the global spotlight has moved on from New Delhi. The government spared no expense in welcoming the visitors and garnering unprecedented attention for a gathering of world leaders.  The price tag, which presumably included everything from initial investment in infrastructure to public relations expenditures, was reportedly as high as Rs 4,100 crore.

In February 2023, a budget of Rs 990 crore was announced to fund the G20 presidency. However, spending for the two-day event has reportedly reached four times the original budgeted amount, prompting a comparison and adding perspective to India's Splurge on the G20 Summit.

Data compiled by digital media company Scoopwhoop comparing India's expenditure to previous host countries provides a stark contrast. Below are the costs incurred by G20 member countries for hosting the summit on their home turf between 2014 and 2022.

Bali, Indonesia (2022): The 2022 G20 Summit in Bali had a budget of almost 674 billion Indonesian Rupiah, over Rs 364 crore.

Osaka, Japan (2019): Japan spent $320 million, Rs 2,660 crore, on the 2019 G20 Summit in Osaka.

Buenos Aires, Argentina (2018): The 2018 G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, cost $112 million i.e., Rs 931 crore.

Hamburg, Germany (2017): According to Germany’s official website dedicated to the G20, the government spent €72.2 million, over Rs 642 crore, on hosting the summit in Hamburg.

Hangzhou, China (2016): The 2016 G20 Summit was held in Hangzhou, China, and according to a report by The Economist, the cost to host the same was a whopping $24 billion, over Rs 1.9 lakh crore (approximately).

Brisbane, Australia (2014): The 2014 G20 summit was held in Brisbane, Australia, and according to a fact sheet by the University of Toronto, the 2014 summit cost was AUD 500 million, over Rs 2,653 crore, including hosting and security expenses.

Rajya Sabha member and All India Trinamool Congress national spokesperson Saket Gokhale, citing media reports, claimed that the Government of India had spent 300 per cent over the funds allocated for the event — Rs 4,100 crore instead of the original Rs 990 crore budget.

Of the Rs 4,110.75 crore mentioned in the document shared by the government, the most significant expenditure of Rs 3,600 crore is listed under the head for the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), which is almost 88 per cent of the total amount. This Rs 3,600 crore is the cost of constructing the ITPO complex at Pragati Maidan, which was later officially renamed the Bharat Mandapam, the G20 Summit’s official venue.

The Centre has not yet disclosed the figures for organising the G20 Summit. Amitabh Kant, the G20 Sherpa, claimed that the money spent is even lower than the approved budget, indicating that Rs 3,600 crore would be shown as spending by ITPO and not as costs incurred on hosting the G20 by India.

Kant has also promised that the government will soon release the actual expense figures. As India continues to host the G20 Summit amidst questions about expenditure, the global community will be watching closely to see how the event unfolds and its impact on the country's economy.

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