World Bank confirms Ajay Banga as next president

Former MasterCard chief executive becomes first Indian American to lead the organisation

Indian-American business executive Ajay Banga was confirmed as the next World Bank president. Reuters
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Indian-American business executive Ajay Banga was selected on Wednesday as the World Bank's new president as the organisation undergoes an evolution with a greater focus on climate change and as it continues its core focus of reducing global poverty.

Mr Banga's five-year term will begin on June 2, the World Bank's 25-member board said, one day after current president David Malpass steps down.

Mr Malpass was scheduled to speak at the Milken Global Institute Conference later on Wednesday.

“The board looks forward to working with Mr Banga on the World Bank Group Evolution process,” the board said in a statement after the vote.

The former MasterCard chief executive will be the first Indian American to lead the organisation.

“Ajay Banga will be a transformative leader, bringing expertise, experience and innovation to the position of World Bank President,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.

In nominating Mr Banga, Mr Biden said the executive's Indian upbringing gives him a unique perspective on tackling challenges faced by developing countries.

Borne in Pune, India, Mr Banga received his bachelor's degree in economics from Delhi University. He is also a graduate of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.

His confirmation as World Bank president comes during a time of reform for the organisation, which has come under increasing pressure to better meet global challenges such as climate change.

Mr Biden, who nominated Mr Banga for the position in February, said the executive's knowledge and experience would be crucial in helping the World Bank towards its goal of poverty reduction.

The new World Bank chief's selection, however, comes at a time of reform, when the organisation will be scrutinised over how it tackles climate change, public health and debt distress

The US Treasury is the World Bank’s largest shareholder, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said steps have been taken to improve the organisation’s operational model.

This includes a $50 billion lending boost over the next 10 years, she said at the World Bank's spring meetings in Washington.

Ms Yellen said the new World Bank president would be instrumental in its reform, noting his record of creating partnerships between private sector, public sector and non-profit organisations.

“Ajay understands that the challenges we face — from combating climate change, pandemics, and fragility to eliminating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity — are deeply intertwined,” she said in a statement after Mr Banga's confirmation.

Mr Banga, in an interview with Bloomberg, said the private sector must do more to alleviate extreme poverty.

The business executive submitted his resignation to Exor on Tuesday before the World Bank’s board vote.

A US citizen has held the position of World Bank president since it was founded in 1944.

Updated: May 03, 2023, 5:23 PM