India has a “very strong voice” within the World Bank group due to its active participation in the international financial institution’s meetings and decisions, and the Bank is in talks with the government to further strengthen this partnership, according to World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva.
In an interview to The Hindu , Ms. Georgieva said even as the Bank was undertaking internal reforms on decision-making and governance, “India’s voice on the (World Bank) Boards of directors and governors is very strong. It is very active in the meetings, due to which it has learnt a lot from the Bank and the Bank has learnt a lot from India.”
Ms. Georgieva, who arrived in India on February 27 on her first official visit here, said the Bank’s focus areas in the country included financial inclusion, renewable energy, smart cities, sustainable water resource management, skill development, sanitation and cleaning the river Ganga.
On the Indus Waters Treaty, Ms. Georgieva said, “a constructive engagement is taking place. We have seen there is good progress.” India, Pakistan and the World Bank are signatories to the Treaty and are in discussions on resolving disagreements the two countries have over India’s construction of two hydroelectric power plants, the Bank had said. “The Treaty has served the two countries very well and has survived difficult moments. It has benefited the countries,” Ms. Georgieva said. However, she added that water resource management today is very different when compared to the times when the Treaty was signed (in the year 1960) due to the huge rise in population and the increase in the water requirement for energy and agriculture. Water sharing is a major issue not just between India and Pakistan, but in many parts across the world, she said, adding that the Bank is working on better strategies to make best use of water resources.
Ms. Georgieva, who met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and RBI Governor Urjit Patel, said among the topics of discussion was finding ways to help raise more funds through rupee-denominated bonds issued outside India – also known as ‘masala bonds’. The masala bond was first issued by the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group. The talks were also on better handling exchange rate fluctuations given the uncertainties in the world economy.