New Delhi : Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman participated in the 6th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) via video conference from New Delhi today.
Every year at the Annual Meeting, the Board of Governors meets to take key decisions on important matters relating to AIIB, and its future vision. India is a Founding Member and the second largest shareholder in AIIB. India also has one of the largest project portfolios within AIIB. This year’s Annual Meeting has been jointly organized by AIIB and the Government of United Arab Emirates on the theme of “Investing Today and Transforming Tomorrow”.
The Finance Minister shared her thoughts in the Governor’s Roundtable Discussion on the theme “COVID-19 Crisis and Post-COVID Support”. In her intervention, Smt. Sitharaman appreciated AIIB’s prompt actions in providing financial support to Member Countries, including India, in their efforts to contain and combat COVID-19. The Finance Minister stated that the social protection and economic stimulus packages brought out by the Government of India, along with timely structural reforms in various sectors, have been pivotal in India’s economic recovery process. The stimulus packages, including the credit guarantee scheme for micro finance institutions, boosters for project exports through National Export Insurance Account, additional subsidies for fertilizers, free food grains for 800 million people under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, and several welfare schemes with a strong public health focus, helped to effectively and efficiently boost the economy and protect lives and livelihoods, especially of the poor and vulnerable.
Sitharaman emphasised Government of India’s successful drive to rapidly vaccinate its citizens, administering over 1 billion vaccines – a milestone achieved with the help of the strong scientific and technological ecosystem in India. The Finance Minister also highlighted India’s “Vaccine Maitri” initiative, a global health outreach, under which 70 million doses of the ‘Made in India’ COVID-19 vaccines have been supplied to 95 countries and UN entities, including nearly 20 million doses to 47 countries under the COVAX facility and more than 12 million vaccine doses as grant to 47 countries and UN peacekeepers.
Sitharaman pointed out that the current crisis and the looming climate crisis have reinforced the importance of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and the urgency for supplementing country efforts with multilateral development finance. In this context, she highlighted some of the expectations from the Bank, including the need to explore investment opportunities in the creation and development of assets in social infrastructure sectors; to further intensify private sector capital mobilisation for inclusive and green development; and to set up a Resident Board and Regional Offices to ensure accountability, transparency and quality of operations and investments.
Sitharaman assured India’s cooperation and support to the AIIB for its future endeavours as a leading financial institution.