Former RBI Guv appointed VP of Beijing-based AIIB

Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel has been appointed as a vice-president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a Beijing based multilateral development bank. He will succeed outgoing Vice President D J Pandian, who is in charge of sovereign and non-sovereign lending of the AIIB in South Asia, the Pacific Islands and South-East Asia.

Mr. Patel, 58, told Prasar Bharati Special Correspondent in Beijing that he will be joining on 1st February. He will be one of the five Vice Presidents of the AIIB with a three-year tenure. Mr. Pandian, a former Gujarat chief secretary, has been AIIB’s vice-president since 2016, the year the bank was set up with India as its second largest shareholder after China. Mr. Pandian was also the bank’s first chief investment officer.

Urjit Patel is currently the chairman of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. He had taken over as the 24th Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) succeeding Raghuram Rajan in September 2016 and was with RBI till December 2018. An economist with great repute, Mr. Patel will take over as vice-president at a time when AIIB is expanding its footprint in developing countries especially India where Infrastructure is seen as a key driver for growth. AIIB is currently headed by China’s Jin Liqun, who is a former Chinese vice minister for finance.

India has emerged as AIIB’s biggest beneficiary by obtaining $6.8 billion funding for 29 projects, outgoing Vice President Mr. Pandian told Prasar Bharati Beijing in an exclusive interview last November. Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh and China are the next four borrowers from the bank with over $7 billion investment. Pandian said AIIB has funded projects across sectors in India especially in transport and energy sectors. In December, AIIB approved the $150 million “Chennai City Partnership: Sustainable Urban Service Program” aiming to strengthen institutions and improve the quality and financial sustainability of selected urban services in Chennai. Also, the AIIB and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila are processing a $2 billion loan request from India to purchase 667 million Covid-19 jabs.

Mr. Pandian has consistently sought to dispel the notion that the AIIB is a Chinese bank, saying it has emerged as a multilateral bank becoming the lead financier of infrastructure projects in Asia. Except the US and Japan, most of the developed and developing countries have joined the bank. In late December, the AIIB approved the application of Iraq to join, becoming the bank’s 51st regional member to bring its membership to 105. As of October 22, AIIB has overall approved 147 projects in 31 countries valued at $28.97 billion.

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