By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. nominee to lead the World Bank, former Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, returns to his native India on Thursday, capping a three-week global tour to drum up support and discuss development and climate needs with donor and borrowing countries.
The Treasury said Banga will visit New Delhi on March 23 and 24, where his likeness has already been posted on billboards. He will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the minister of finance, Nirmala Sitharaman, and the minister of external affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
“These discussions will focus on India’s development priorities, the World Bank, and global economic development challenges,” the Treasury said in a statement.
India’s government endorsed the candidacy of Banga, a longtime finance and development executive who is now a U.S. citizen, soon after his nomination was announced in late February.
He has won the support of enough other governments to virtually assure his confirmation as the next World Bank president, including 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.
U.S. President Joe Biden last month nominated Banga, 63, to replace David Malpass, who announced his resignation after months of controversy over his initial failure to say he backed the scientific consensus on climate change.
In India, Banga will also visit a vocational skills development institute funded in part by the World Bank, the Treasury said.
Over the past month, Banga has met with government officials, civil society groups, business leaders and other stakeholders on a “global listening tour” that started in Africa before progressing to Europe, Latin America and Asia.
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Leslie Adler)