US nominee for World Bank president, Ajay Banga, has tested positive for COVID-19 following which the meetings scheduled during his two-day visit to India have been cancelled. According to a Finance Ministry statement, Banga’s meeting with Nirmala Sitharaman would not happen as he is in quarantine.
“During routine testing, Ajay Banga tested positive for COVID-19 but remains asymptomatic. In adherence with local guidelines, he is quarantining in isolation,” the US Treasury Department said on Thursday. Besides meeting with the Union finance minister, Banga was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar and top officials during his two-day visit from March 23 to 24.
Banga’s New Delhi visit is the final stop on his three-week global tour that began in Africa before progressing to Europe, Latin America, and Asia to drum up support for his candidature for the World Bank’s top position. India is witnessing a spike in influenza and coronavirus cases in the past two weeks. The country logged 1,249 new coronavirus cases, while the active cases have increased to 7,927, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.
According to the US Treasury Department statement, Ajay Banga was to discuss India’s development priorities, the World Bank, and global economic development challenges with the Indian leaders during his two-day visit.India endorsed Banga’s candidacy soon after his nomination was announced.Since then, a diverse coalition of governments has expressed their support for Banga, including Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Korea, and the United Kingdom.
During his global listening tour, Banga met with senior government officials, stakeholders, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and civil society.Along the way, he built continuous momentum for his candidacy, gaining the support of advocates, academics, development experts, executives, Nobel Laureates, and former government officials.
If elected to serve, Banga will draw from his experience living and working in emerging markets and his expertise in forging public-private partnerships to mobilise investments and action to confront long standing challenges. That includes his efforts at Mastercard to successfully bring 500 million previously unbanked people into the digital economy, as well as its support for 50 million small businesses.