NEW DELHI, March 25, 2012 − World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick begins an official visit to India on Monday to see what more the Bank can do to support Government efforts to overcome poverty as India embarks on its 12th Five Year Plan.
“The Bank’s partnership with India, one of our founding members, goes back six decades, and we look forward to sustaining it in the years ahead,” Zoellick said. “Shifts in the world economy could affect India’s growth momentum and sharpen its development challenges. The Bank stands ready to continue to support India with its knowledge and financial resources to meet the challenges ahead.”
India’s steady growth levels had, along with those of other emerging economies, helped the global economy recover from the last financial downturn. India is poised to grow at 7 percent this year, buoyed by strong fundamentals and a high domestic savings rate. But the Government recognizes that returning to more ambitious growth targets will require addressing key structural bottlenecks, such as energy, mining, land and infrastructure as well and policies affecting the profitability of exports.
“As the government calibrates its plans to ensure high growth, it is investing in infrastructure to help create jobs and increase productivity for tomorrow. It’s also seeking to remove the pronounced economic and human development differences among and within its states, while ensuring growth does not harm the environment,” Zoellick said. “We are committed to supporting the Government’s ambitious development goals, and are exploring ways in which we can leverage resources to ensure that policy-makers and planners can access the best global thinking on issues that confront it, be it social safety nets, or public-private partnership ventures in infrastructure or improving the quality of education.”
Zoellick, who has visited India four times during his five-year tenure as Bank President, will meet government leaders, including the Union Ministers of Finance, Home and Rural Development, and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission to better understand how the World Bank Group can be useful to India in meeting its development priorities.
India is one of the Bank’s key clients and the institution will later this year outline the roadmap for its engagement in the country over the next four years. The country is the largest client for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IBRD, which lends to middle income countries and its private sector arm, IFC, International Financial Corporation. The Group in its last fiscal (ending June 2011) made US$6.33 billion available to India, including US$3.46 billion from IBRD, US$775 million from IFC, and US$2.07 billion from its fund for the poorest, the International Development Association, IDA.
“India’s needs are great, so I am here to explore with the Government of India innovative ways in which our joint financial capacities can be leveraged, especially in infrastructure financing, so that India can build the roads, highways, railway lines and power plants needed to propel growth,” Zoellick said.
Zoellick will also visit Odisha to see how the resource-rich state is seeking to integrate environmental issues into its development strategy. He will visit coastal communities in the state to see how they are participating in planning for and conserving their natural resources in a way that does not hurt their livelihoods. He will also meet the Chief Minister of Odisha to discuss how the Bank Group can better support a state where almost half the population still has to overcome poverty.
Set to step down from the Bank on June 30, Zoellick will visit the World Bank Group’s office in Chennai to thank staff for their work. Since its beginnings in 2001 with about 70 people, the Chennai office now employs close to 500 people working in corporate finance, accounting, administrative and IT services for the Bank's headquarters and country offices around the globe.
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