United States President Joe Biden and Indian-American Vice President Kamala Harris congratulated Indian-origin US executive Ajay Banga on taking charge as president of the World Bank.
Sikh-American Banga was yesterday designated as the first Indian-origin World Bank president for a term of five years, an official release stated.
Indian-origin US Vice President Kamala Harris also congratulated Banga in a tweet. Harris has worked with Banga in Central America.
“Congratulations to Ajay Banga on his election as President of the World Bank. Ajay has been an incredible partner in our work in Central America, helping to deliver hope and opportunity on the ground. I look forward to our continued work together.”
The former MasterCard CEO was nominated by Biden, who said Banga will be a “transformational leader”, who will bring expertise, experience, and innovation to the position.
"Ajay Banga will be a transformative leader, bringing expertise, experience, and innovation to the position of World Bank President. And together with World Bank leadership and shareholders, he will help steer the institution as it evolves and expands to address global challenges that directly affect its core mission of poverty reduction — including climate change," Biden said.
"Ajay will also be integral in bringing together the public and private sectors, alongside philanthropies, to usher in the fundamental changes in development finance that this moment requires," said the President, congratulating Banga.
After he was nominated for this position, Banga spent the last couple of months travelling around the world meeting with governments from the World Bank's diverse shareholder base and stakeholders from both the private and philanthropic sectors.
Banga most recently served as Vice Chairman at General Atlantic. Previously, he was president and CEO of Mastercard, a global organisation with nearly 24,000 employees.
Under his leadership, MasterCard launched the Center for Inclusive Growth, which advances equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world, the World Bank stated.
Banga is a co-founder of The Cyber Readiness Institute and was Vice Chair of the Economic Club of New York. He was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012, the Padma Shri Award by the President of India in 2016, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Business Council for International Understanding’s Global Leadership Award in 2019, and the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star in 2021.
“The Board looks forward to working with Banga on the World Bank Group Evolution process, as discussed at the April 2023 Spring Meetings, and on all the World Bank Group’s ambitions and efforts aimed at tackling the toughest development challenges facing developing countries,” the release added.
Under an unwritten arrangement, a US citizen has historically held the presidency of the Washington-based development lender, while the International Monetary Fund has been run by a European.
The trend continues with Banga, 63, who was born into a Sikh family in India and is a naturalised US citizen.
He told reporters that during his candidacy, he wanted to see greater private sector funding to help tackle financing for global problems.
"There is not enough money without the private sector," he said, adding that an organisation like the World Bank should set up a system that could share risk or mobilise private funds to achieve its goals.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last month that she was confident Banga has "the right experience and track record of bringing together governments, the private sector, and non-profits to deliver on our ambitious goals."