Washington: President Joe Biden has nominated Ajay Banga, the former CEO of Mastercard, to head the World Bank, following the announcement that current chief David Malpass would step down early.
Banga, an Indian-American, is currently the vice chairman at equity firm General Atlantic. The World Bank has just begun accepting nominations for the post, with a process running until March 29.
The bank has said that it would strongly encourage women candidates.
The post of president of the World Bank is traditionally held by an American, while the leader of the International Monetary Fund is typically European.
Biden praised Banga’s experience in mobilizing public-private resources to tackle the most pressing issues of the day, including climate change.
Malpass, who was nominated to the post by former President Donald Trump in 2019, announced last week that he would step down nearly a year early, ending a tenure that was marked by questions over his climate stance. His term would have originally ended in 2024.
Banga’s nomination comes at a time when development lenders are being urged to address global problems, particularly environmental issues, more effectively.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently argued that lenders’ core models, where countries borrow to make specific investments addressing developmental constraints, were “insufficient to meet the moment.”
The United States is the World Bank’s largest shareholder.
Speaking to reporters, a senior US administration official said that “At Mastercard and General Atlantic, Ajay has made combating climate change and mobilizing private capital to help power the green transition a priority.”
“These are experiences and priorities that will guide and drive his work in the years ahead at the World Bank,” the official said.
In a separate statement, Yellen applauded Biden’s decision, saying that Banga 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.
She added that his record of forging partnerships between the public sector, private sector, and non-profits would serve him in helping to “mobilize private capital and press for the reforms needed to meet our shared ambitions.”
Asked about the World Bank’s encouragement for women candidates, a US official told reporters that Banga had a “personal conviction and excellent track record” in promoting diversity in his work. Banga was born, raised, and spent an early part of his career in emerging market India.
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