(TibetanReview.net, Sep13, 2017) – The appropriations committees of both the House of Representatives and the Senate of the US Congress have approved last week at least $17 million to assist the Tibetan people in Tibet and in exile to preserve their culture, help the refugees among them and develop institutions to promote their growth. The level of the proposed assistance was the same as that of 2017, reported India’s PTI news agency Sep 12. Earlier, the Trump administration had, in its maiden budget proposal presented by the State Department to the Congress in late May, provided zero budget for Tibetan-specific assistance.
The congressional provisions form part of the proposal for the State Department’s 2018 annual budget.
The report said key provisions of the appropriations bill included $8 million to support activities that preserve cultural traditions and promote sustainable development and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and in other Tibetan autonomous areas in the People’s Republic of China.
The bill is also reported to have made a $3 million provision to strengthen the capacity of Tibetan institutions and governance.
The report said that the Senate Appropriations Committee in its report recognised the progress made by the Tibetan community in South Asia in establishing democratic institutions to ensure the welfare of such communities and the preservation of Tibetan culture in exile. And well aware of the developmental challenges facing Tibetan communities in the region, the provisions are said to include $6 million to continue to support Tibetan communities in India and Nepal in the areas of education, skills development, and entrepreneurship.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has also recommended $1 million for the Office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson under the Trump Administration is yet to make an appointment to that post.
The report said that in addition to $15 million for Tibetan issues, the appropriations bill supported continuation of the Tibetan services of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. The approval for Radio Free Asia was reported to be $42 million, with a substantial part of it going to its Tibetan service.