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Ajay Banga poised to become World Bank chief unopposed

By Lalit K Jha
March 30, 2023 19:03 IST
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Indian-American business leader Ajay Banga is poised to become the next President of the World Bank after the nomination period closed and no country proposed an alternate candidate for the prestigious post.

Ajay Banga

Photograph: Ruben Sprich/Reuters

In February, President Joe Biden announced that the US would be nominating Banga to lead the World Bank because he is "well equipped" to lead the global institution at "this critical moment in history."

The World Bank on Wednesday closed a month-long window for nominations for its next president, with no alternatives announced to 63-year-old Banga.

The former Mastercard Inc. chief, Banga currently serves as vice chairman at General Atlantic.


The bank's board is expected to announce the next steps in its selection process on Thursday, with a view to confirming a new leader by early May.

“Over the next few months, you will see the World Bank undergo an important transition.

"We expect that Ajay Banga – President Biden's nominee – will be elected President of the World Bank,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.

“He will be charged with accelerating our progress to evolve the institution to better address 21st century challenges.

"This evolution will help the Bank deliver on its vital poverty alleviation and development goals,” Yellen said.

If confirmed, Banga would become the first-ever Indian-American and Sikh-American to head either of the two top international financial institutions: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Banga is expected to replace the current World Bank president David Malpass, who will step down in June, nearly a year before his term is scheduled to expire.

Malpass faced strong criticism over the bank's commitment to climate action and over his personal views on climate change.

Last week, reports emerged that China sounded doubtful about backing Banga, saying it is "open" to supporting "other potential candidates" based on merit.

Banga, however, received overwhelming support from major countries across the world, including India.

Following Banga's nomination, he has travelled to several countries for support.

A coalition of 55 advocates, academics, executives, luminaries, and former government officials -- including four Nobel Laureates -- wrote an open letter to welcome and support Banga's nomination as the next president of the World Bank.

Raised in India, Banga has a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing developing countries and how the World Bank can deliver on its ambitious agenda to reduce poverty and expand prosperity, President Biden had said.

He has also worked closely with Vice President Harris as the Co-Chair of the Partnership for Central America.

He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2016.

Banga is expected to take over the reins of the anti-poverty lender at a crucial time, with the US and Western nations pitching for reforms to focus on addressing a slew of wide-ranging global issues like climate change.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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