Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday pitched for a greater representation of Indians in top leadership positions at IMF, even as its chief Christine Lagarde hoped an Indian will “one day” head the global body.
In a meeting with Lagarde, who is on a two-day India visit, Modi “emphasized the need to have greater representation for Indians at the higher level of IMF, particularly at the Deputy MD level”.
Earlier in the day, Lagarde had said during an event that “one of these days” an Indian can head the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“I hope one of these days. I can’t tell you when. One day of course,” she said in reply to a query on when an Indian could head the IMF.
Among Indians having held senior positions at IMF, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan was Chief Economist, while Arvind Subramanian, currently India’s Chief Economic Advisor, has also previously served as an economist at the multilateral lending institution.
While Lagarde is from France, her predecessor Dominique Strauss Kahn at IMF was also from the same country. Traditionally, the position of IMF’s MD has been held by a European, although there have been pressure in past few years from emerging countries from Asia and Latin America to change this trend.
During her meeting with the Prime Minister later in the day, Lagarde “complimented the government on the focused way in which it has been working to revive the economy”, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
During the meeting, Modi “stressed the importance of having a clear direction and focus” and said reforms are not restricted to legislation alone, and implementation and direction are equally important.
“He said that his focus, while promoting growth, is to create jobs, have inclusive growth, and focus on development of backward regions in Eastern and North-Eastern India. This region is rich in natural and human resources and we need to capitalize on this. The priority is on all fronts agriculture, manufacturing and services,” the statement said.
Lagarde told the Prime Minister that that the results of the government’s results were visible and India’s growth rate has crossed 7.5 per cent.
“It is the bright spot in the global economy,” she said and expressed hope that India would continue on this growth path.
Lagarde also called on President Pranab Mukherjee and met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. After her meeting with Jaitley, Lagarde commenting on India’s fiscal consolidation said: “I was very impressed by the fact that state authorities, most of them at least, also abide by the fiscal principle and discipline.”
She, however, cautioned that fiscal consolidation should be anchored in the medium term.
“But I think it should anchored in the medium term in order to give macroeconomic stability framework to the country in order to continue to encourage investors and for India to remain bright spot of the global economy,” she said.
Lagarde said with the Finance Minister she discussed how devolution of Budget can work with states and how to keep fiscal consolidation on radar.
“We had very good discussion about the tax issue because I was a finance minister myself. We discussed how devolution of Budget can work with states and how to keep fiscal consolidation on radar screen,” she said.
Stating that India is one of the large economies, she said: “I was able to confirm my impression that India is the bright spot of the global economy, that is there, what call seize the moment time for the Indian economy.”
There is clearly renewed confidence from the rest of the world which looking at India with envy, she added.
“India is large economy that is growing and we forecast that growth to be solid and continue to be going forward,” she said.
“I was also able to discuss with them inclusive finance,” she added.
It is a topic which is very important to develop the financial infrastructure and give access to all Indian people to bank accounts and to the ability of transact business using bank accounts.
“We also discussed the empowerment of women, and the fact women can be a huge contributor to the Indian economy,” the IMF chief said.
Jaitley said that the Indian economy is fundamentally strong and forward looking. He added the reforms are under way and underscored the commitment of the government to accelerate growth while adhering to the path of fiscal discipline.
The Finance Minister and IMF chief also agreed to jointly host a high level conference on ‘Advancing Asia:Investing for the Future’ in March 2016 in India, according to the official release.