Giving a commitment to help India meet its significant needs by providing finance and knowledge services in response to India’s request to increase support to the low-income States where most of the country’s India’s poor live, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on Wednesday indicated an assured annual funding of $3-5 billion for the next four years to push development projects and poverty eradication programmes.
Addressing a press conference at the conclusion of his three-day India visit, Dr. Kim said: “We have an historic opportunity to accelerate the reduction of poverty in India. The World Bank Group is committed to supporting the Indian people as they pursue this crucial goal…The World Bank Group will work toward continuing its level of annual assistance of $3-5 billion to India over the next four years”.
“We hope, especially working through IFC [International Finance Corporation], $3-5 billion can leverage many more billions for investment in India. We believe that India is a good investment and we will deepen our engagement as much as we can, using every bit of flexibility and creativity to get there,” he said.
The Bank, he said, would complement its enhanced financial lending with technical assistance and knowledge services to help India improve the implementation of its development programmes. During the year ended June last year, the multilateral funding agency extended a total loan of $ 3.2 billion for various projects, which included the national mission ‘Clean Ganga.’
Asked whether the Group was thinking of closing the soft loans tap — the International Development Association (IDA) — for India on its graduating to a “middle-income country”, Dr. Kim said: “We are in middle of discussions right now about our IDA strategy...We are going to be as creative as possible to maintain our commitment to India at very high levels.”
Asserting that the World Bank Group was concerned about the poor — about 400 million poor people who live in India, Dr. Kim said that the lending agency’s mission of ending global poverty would require it to step up support for India’s poorest citizens.
“Achieving the World Bank Group’s mission of ending global poverty will require us to step up our support for India’s poorest citizens…India’s poorest seven States are home to over 200 million people who have yet to secure access to education, healthcare and other basic services they deserve. Increasing our focus on these areas will help India build shared prosperity for all its people,” he said.
On the issue of India’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth estimates for 2013-14, Dr. Kim viewed that the country had a much higher potential than the six per cent projected for the coming fiscal. “We have seen signs of the economy having bottomed out. Six per cent is not a spectacular growth. India has many things going. The challenge is how to go back to the potential,” he said.
Signing off his maiden visit to India after taking over as World Bank President, during which he had “productive discussions” with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Dr. Kim said: “I leave India with a profound admiration for the remarkable development gains this country has achieved in recent decades. India’s experience holds valuable lessons for the World Bank Group and for countries around the world.”