US expects Biden's nominee, Ajay Banga, to be elected World Bank chief

United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday she expected the U.S. nominee to head the World Bank, former Mastercard (MA.N) CEO Ajay Banga, to be elected as president of the multilateral development bank.

In testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee, Yellen said Banga would be charged with helping evolve the institution to better address new challenges.

"This evolution will help the Bank deliver on its vital poverty alleviation and development goals," Yellen told lawmakers on the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, who control the Treasury Department's purse strings.

She added, however, that the United States has not asked for a World Bank capital increase. She said the World Bank can expand lending by stretching its existing resources and by pursuing innovative measures on its balance sheet.

"We are not requesting a capital increase at this time," she said in the hearing.

Banga, 63, recently completed a three-week world tour to meet government leaders, civil society groups and others in borrowing and donor countries as he campaigned for the bank's top post.

President Joe Biden nominated the Indian-born finance and development executive, who is a U.S. citizen, for the post in late February.

He has won the support of enough other governments to virtually assure his confirmation as World Bank president, including India, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

The World Bank will accept nominations from other countries until March 29, but no competitors have been announced. The World Bank has been led by an American since its founding at the end of World War Two, while the International Monetary Fund has been led by a European.

The bank's board has said it hopes to elect a new leader by early May.

The bank's current president, David Malpass, was nominated by former President Donald Trump. He announced his resignation in February after months of controversy over his initial failure to say he backed the scientific consensus on climate change.

Yellen on Wednesday also said U.S. policy toward multilateral development banks' energy finance is flexible and that some low-income countries may qualify for financing for natural gas projects if renewable energy is not feasible. 

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt