US nominates Ajay Banga to lead World Bank

Selection of Indian-American executive comes a week after David Malpass announced plans to end his term early

If elected, former MasterCard chief executive Ajay Banga would be the first Indian-born president of the World Bank. Reuters
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The US on Thursday nominated Indian-American executive Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank.

In announcing Mr Banga's nomination, US President Joe Biden pointed to the banking executive's experience in tackling climate change and financial inclusion, among other global challenges.

“Ajay is uniquely equipped to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history,” Mr Biden said.

The nomination of the former MasterCard chief executive comes a week after current World Bank President David Malpass announced plans to step down from the position before the end of his term, which was to expire in 2024.

Mr Malpass, who was nominated under former president Donald Trump, faced criticism last year for raising doubts that the burning of fossil fuels exacerbates climate change. He later said that he had misspoken.

Mr Biden said Mr Banga “has critical experience mobilising public-private resources to tackle the most urgent challenges of our time, including climate change”.

Mr Banga is the first Indian-born nominee to the World Bank presidency, and Mr Biden said his upbringing in India would give the institution a unique perspective on the challenges faced by developing countries.

He currently serves as vice chairman of the equity firm General Atlantic.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Mr Banga's 30-year banking experience would help the World Bank to make inroads on eliminating extreme poverty and other challenges. She also said his record of creating relationships in the private and public sectors as well as with non-profits would help him “press for the reforms need to meet our shared ambitions”.

“He has the right leadership and management skills, experience living and working in emerging markets, and financial expertise to lead the World Bank at a critical moment in its history, deliver on its core development goals and evolve the bank to meet global challenges like climate change,” Ms Yellen said.

The US is the largest shareholder in the World Bank, with 16.57 per cent of its capital shares.

The World Bank said it would accept applications through March 29. Every World Bank president since its 1944 inception has been a US citizen.

Updated: February 23, 2023, 4:38 PM