Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced that India would contribute Rs 4,500 crore to Bhutan’s 12th five-year plan as the two countries decided to enhance cooperation in hydro-power and other key sectors.

India’s assistance to Bhutan’s 12th plan, which runs from 2018 to 2023, would conform to its needs and priorities, Modi said at a joint media interaction with his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering after wide-ranging talks between the two leaders.

Tshering is on his maiden overseas visit after assuming the office in November, reflecting the importance his government attaches to ties with India. Bhutan had solidly backed India during its military stand-off with China at Doklam in June last year.

Noting that the collaboration in hydro projects has been an important part in the long history of cooperation between India and Bhutan, Modi said work on the Mangghe-Descchu project was going to be completed soon. The tariff of this project has also been agreed upon between the two sides. Work on other projects was also making satisfactory progress, he added.

Modi said he was happy to learn that the Bhutan Government has decided to launch RuPay Cards soon and expressed confidence that this would lead to strengthening people-to-people relations. He said he had assured the Bhutanese leader that India would, as always, play the role of a trusted partner and friend in the development of Bhutan.

On his part, Tshering noted that Prime Minister Modi was the first head of government to congratulate him on his electoral victory. He also thanked India for its continued support to his country’s developmental needs.

He said the purpose of his visit was to take India-Bhutan relations to much greater heights. India and Bhutan were celebrating the golden jubilee of bilateral ties and it should be their endeavour to score a century, double century, and triple century in taking this relationship forward.

He was hopeful that India would come to the rescue of Bhutanese businessmen who had been affected due to the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India.

Earlier in the day, Tshering was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also called on the Bhutanese PM.