Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday invited Beijing-based AIIB to participate in India's ambitious USD 1.4 trillion (about Rs 111 lakh crore) infrastructure development programme which the government is keenly pushing to revive economic growth hit by COVID-19 pandemic.

While attending the fifth Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) through video conference, Sitharaman suggested the bank to establish regional presence which would aid in effective project management and implementation.

To give a boost to the infrastructure development, India has launched the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) 2020-2025 with estimated expenditure of USD 1.4 trillion that has created a plethora of fresh investment opportunities for AIIB's partnerships," she said.

Furthermore, she mentioned some of the expectations from the bank, including introduction of new financing instruments, mobilising private sector finance, providing financing for social infrastructure to achieve the SDGs 2030, and integrating development of climate resilient and sustainable energy access infrastructure into the recovery response to the COVID-19 crisis.

India is a founding member of the multilateral funding agency with the second highest voting share. India has 7.65 per cent vote share in the AIIB while China holds a whopping 26.63 per cent stake in the organisation which was set up in 2016.

Every year at the Annual Meeting, the Board of Governors meet to take key decisions that impact the bank's future, the finance ministry said in a statement.

The discussions at the meeting broadly covered official business including election of the president of the AIIB and a roundtable discussion on the theme 'AIIB 2030-Supporting Asia's Development over the Next Decade'.

In her intervention as a Lead Speaker at the roundtable discussion Sitharaman appreciated AIIB's efforts for fast tracking financial assistance of about USD 10 billion to its member countries including India to combat COVID-19 pandemic.

She mentioned about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative of creating a COVID-19 Emergency Fund for SAARC Nations and India's efforts in supplying critical medical health kits to tackle the COVID-19, and now supporting global efforts of COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Besides, the finance minister highlighted India's participation in the "G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative".

Sitharaman also outlined various measures taken by the Government of India to respond to the COVID-19, including the USD 23 billion Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKP) and USD 295 billion Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package (ANBP), which aim at protecting all sectors and sections of the economy.

The Reserve Bank of India eased the monetary policy especially reduced reserve requirements and introduced liquidity in the economy to the extent of almost 3.9 per cent of GDP.

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Free Press Journal