The US candidate to head the World Bank, ex-Mastercard Chief Executive Ajay Banga, gained traction with senior members on Friday, a sign he is likely to have a smooth ride to confirmation by the global lender’s board of directors.
The finance ministers of France and Germany gave positive reviews to Banga, nominated Thursday by US President Joe Biden as a surprise choice to lead the World Bank’s transformation in the fight against climate change and other global challenges.
“I think we have a very good candidate for the World Bank,” French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said of Banga at a press conference at the G20 financial leaders meeting in India.
“I look forward to meeting the candidate to give a final answer to this candidacy. But I think he’s a very good one.”
German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Banga’s appointment was a “very remarkable” proposal as his experience in the private sector could potentially be useful in mobilizing private investment in the fight against climate change and for development projects.
Lindner said Germany would follow the nomination with “great attention” and expressed “sympathy” for the US proposal.
The comments marked a reversal from Tuesday, when Germany’s International Development Minister Svenja Schulze, who represents another party in Germany’s coalition government, said the next World Bank chief should be a woman.
The meeting of G20 ministers is being held on the outskirts of India’s tech hub Bengaluru.
India’s finance ministry has not officially commented on the nomination of Banga, an Indian-born US citizen, who featured prominently in Indian media on Friday.
But the government was expected to support Banga, Krishnamurthy Subramanian, India’s executive director of the International Monetary Fund, told Reuters in Washington.
Subramanian, the former top economic adviser to the Indian government, called the nomination “an elegant solution.”
‘UNIQUE SET OF SKILLS’
The United States, the lender’s dominant shareholder, has elected every president of the World Bank since the institution’s founding at the end of World War II.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she did not know if there would be other candidates for the job, but said Washington was quick to deal with a well-qualified candidate to ensure the tradition would continue.
“…we tried to find a candidate who was really well qualified and brought a unique set of skills that we think will be attractive,” she said.
Other countries have until March 29 to nominate an alternative candidate, and the World Bank board plans to announce a choice in early May.
But with the United States and European countries backing Banga, along with some key emerging markets, a challenger would have almost no chance of success and would be a largely symbolic effort to protest what is seen by many countries and stakeholders as a non-transparent selection. process stacked too long in Washington’s favor.
Many developing countries took the rapid nomination by the United States as a clear signal not to nominate candidates themselves, said a well-known source who was briefed on the matter.
Yellen told reporters Banga has “the right leadership and management skills, emerging market experience and financial expertise” to lead and reshape the World Bank to boost climate change lending while upholding its core anti-poverty mission.
Banga’s nomination was praised by the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest trade association, who called him “the right choice to steer (the bank) towards greater impact, efficiency and agility.”
World Bank officials are bracing for Banga to make some management changes at the bank, encouraged by Yellen’s repeated calls for “bolder and more imaginative” action by the bank, two bank sources told Reuters.
Banga also received an endorsement from U.S. Representative Patrick McHenry, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee and a harsh critic of Biden’s climate agenda.
Banga’s “significant experience in managing global businesses and driving investment in developing countries is what the Bank needs at such a precarious time for the global economy,” McHenry said in a statement.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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