World Bank, IMF chiefs to visit India this month

New Delhi: Heads of the two most powerful banking institutions globally, the World Bank and the IMF, are likely to be in India later this month, amid an ongoing search process to finalise the name of the next World Bank President.

During their separate visits, the World Bank President Robert Zoellick and IMF Chief Christine Lagarde are likely to meet top leaders and policymakers here and discuss the various economic policies and reforms being undertaken by India, given its growing influence in the global economic arena.

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) has said that Lagarde would be here on March 19-20, although there is no official word so far on Zoellick`s India visit. A person in the know of the development, however, said that Zoellick was likely to come to India in the last week of March and his itinerary was being finalised.

These high-profile visits assume significance in the wake of demands from emerging economies that chiefs of these two influential multi-lateral lending agencies should be selected on the basis of merit, and not their nationality.

Zoellick is stepping down as the World Bank President in June and a search process is on to finalise his successor. Since their inception, the World Bank and the IMF have always been headed by persons from the US and Europe, respectively, although there are no rules barring those from other countries being appointed to these positions.

The US and Europe account for a major chunk of voting rights at these institutions, but the voice has been getting louder for a greater importance to the emerging markets.

Against the backdrop of financial meltdown that saw economic clout slowly shift away from the West, India and other emerging economies have been pitching bigger voice in the IMF and World Bank to reflect the contemporary realities.