Biden pick Ajay Banga cleared to take top job at World Bank
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration's choice to run the World Bank — former Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga — appears to have a lock on the job.
The World Bank said Thursday that Banga was the only candidate nominated in a search that began more than a month ago.
The current president of the 189-nation poverty-fighting organization, David Malpass, announced last month that he would step down in June, nearly a year before his five-year term was due to expire in April 2024.
The World Bank is under pressure to do more to help poor countries finance projects to combat and prepare for climate change without saddling them with heavy debts. And critics say it needs to do a better job of tackling problems that cross borders such as providing pandemic surveillance and backing broad vaccination programs.
Banga, currently vice chairman at private equity firm General Atlantic, has more than 30 years of business experience, having served in various roles at Mastercard and the boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods and Dow Inc. He is the first Indian-born nominee to the World Bank president role. Nominating him to the job Feb. 23, President Joe Biden said Banga “has critical experience mobilizing public-private resources to tackle the most urgent challenges of our time, including climate change.”
Malpass, who had been nominated by President Donald Trump, ran into criticism last year for seeming, in comments at a conference, to cast doubt on the science that says the burning of fossil fuels causes global warming. He later apologized and said he had misspoken, noting that the bank routinely relies on climate science.
The United States has traditionally picked the World Bank chief. The head of its sister agency, the International Monetary Fund, has traditionally come from Europe. But critics have called for an end to that arrangement and for developing countries to gain a bigger voice in the two organizations.
There had been some speculation that alternative candidates would emerge. But what the bank called its "open, merit-based and transparent selection process'' closed Wednesday without drawing any other nominations.
In a statement, the World Bank said its board will conduct a formal interview with Banga and "conclude the presidential selection in due course.''