Climate, poverty and inequality: How Ajay Banga plans to change WB


Banga, who oversaw the expansion of Mastercard’s market capitalization to $360 billion during his 12-year tenure, already has gotten support from India

Our Bureau
New Delhi

President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the World Bank, Indian-American Ajay Banga, has said the bank needs to structure its operations to continue to work on poverty reduction and inequality, while also tackling “intertwined” challenges posed by climate change as he believed the scientific evidence on it.

The ex-Mastercard chief executive officer also told reporters at the US treasury department he plans to travel to Europe, Asia, Africa and potentially Latin America in coming weeks to hear from donor countries and borrowers on challenges facing the global institution.

“You cannot have economic prosperity without caring about nature, pandemics, fragility, food availability – this is our new world,” Banga said. “You need to understand that the challenges are multiplied and are multipolar.”

Biden last week nominated Banga, to head the World Bank, betting the India-born executive’s ties to the private sector and decades of experience in emerging markets will bring fresh momentum to a U.S.-led push to overhaul the 77-year-old institution to better address climate change.

Banga, 63, would replace outgoing president David Malpass, who announced his resignation last month after months of controversy sparked by his initial refusal to say if he accepted the scientific consensus on climate change, and escalating pressure by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for him to adopt “bolder and more imaginative” reforms at the bank.

Banga, who oversaw the expansion of Mastercard’s market capitalization to $360 billion from $20 billion during his 12-year tenure there, said he had already gotten support from India, Ghana and Kenya, but hoped to visit as many countries around the world “as logistically possible” over the next three weeks to understand their priorities and concerns.

Barring any last-minute challenges, Biden’s nomination of Banga, now a U.S. citizen, all but assures he will assume a job that oversees billions of dollars of funding to help developing countries. The United States, the lender’s dominant shareholder, has chosen every World Bank president since the founding of the institution at the end of World War Two.

Asked about a U.S.-led push to stretch the bank’s balance sheet and boost its lending capacity, Banga said the bank must “do all it can” to work through recommendations prepared for the Group of 20 major economies by an independent commission last year, while still protecting the bank’s AAA credit rating.

Meanwhile, congratulating Ajay Banga, former chief executive officer of MasterCard, on being nominated to lead World Bank, the Union Finance Ministry on Thursday said India “looks forward to his leadership” of the international organization.

The official Twitter handle of the ministry — @FinMinIndia — said on Thursday, “Congratulations to Mr Ajay Banga on being nominated to lead @WorldBank. India supports Mr Banga’s nomination and looks forward to his leadership of the @WorldBank.” “Mr Banga brings with him unique and wide-ranging expertise in #financial and #technological sectors, rich experience in guiding large organizations that have invested and created jobs in #DevelopingEconomies, and in mobilizing resources on a large scale,” the ministry said.

The ministry further said that Banga’s rich experience will stand him in good stead at a time “when the @WorldBank is considering next-generation #reforms to deliver on its ambitious agenda to reduce poverty, expand prosperity and deal with the pressing global challenges of our times.”

Banga has been nominated to be the next president of the World Bank, following the early resignation of outgoing chief David Malpass.

Born and raised in India, Ajay Banga has a unique perspective on challenges that can deliver on its agenda for prosperity and reduce poverty. While addressing weekly briefings, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre last week said, “the US nominated Ajay Banga to be president of the World Bank.

President Biden himself said he is uniquely equipped to lead the world bank; he is a renowned business executive who has managed companies bringing jobs and investment to developing economies.” “He (Ajay Banga) has a proven track record of creating public-private partnerships. Raised in India he has a unique perspective on opportunities and challenges facing developing countries and how World Bank can deliver on its agenda for prosperity and reduce poverty,” she added.

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