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Urjit Patel, a former RBI governor, named vice-president of the AIIB in Beijing

DJ Pandian, a former Gujarat chief secretary who has served as AIIB's vice president and chief investment officer since 2016, will be succeeded by Urjit Patel

Urjit Patel, a former RBI governor, named vice-president of the AIIB in Beijing

Urjit Patel, a former governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has been named vice-president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a Beijing-based multilateral development bank.

DJ Pandian, a former Gujarat chief secretary who has served as AIIB's vice-president and chief investment officer since 2016, the year the bank was established with India as its second largest shareholder behind China, will step down.

Patel is the current chairperson of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, a finance ministry-affiliated research institute.

Urjit Patel, a Nairobi native, is rumoured to have resigned as RBI governor in 2018 due to disagreements with the NDA administration over fiscal policies.

At a time when the AIIB is growing its impact in emerging countries, particularly India, the prominent Indian economist will take over as vice-president.

AIIB is now led by China's Jin Liqun and has five vice-presidents.

Since its inception six years ago, India has been the AIIB's largest borrower.

"India's AIIB's top investment market with 28 projects valued at $6.71 billion," outgoing Pandian said in an interaction with the media late last year.

Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh, and China are the bank's next four borrowers, each receiving a $7 billion loan.

According to Pandian, the AIIB has sponsored projects in India across a variety of industries, particularly in the transportation and energy sectors.

India has requested a $2 billion loan from the AIIB and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila to purchase 667 million Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate at least 317 million people in 19 states throughout the country.

In December, AIIB approved the $150 million "Chennai City Partnership: Sustainable Urban Service Program" aiming "…to strengthen institutions and improve the quality and financial sustainability of selected urban services in Chennai".

"In this case, we are helping India to increase their resilience and meet their objectives even during the most difficult times. We envision this project as a first-phase engagement and a building block for AIIB's long-term partnership with India and - in this particular case, Chennai - by supporting the government's programme of expenditures," Pandian was quoted in an AIIB statement released after the project was approved.

In the past, the former Indian bureaucrat has worked to dispel the misconception that the AIIB is a Chinese bank, claiming that it has evolved into a multinational bank that is the leading lender of infrastructure projects in Asia.

With the exception of the United States and Japan, the majority of industrialised and developing countries have joined the bank.

An AIIB report in December said that India can capitalise on a higher participation rate in global value chains (GVC) to accelerate the country's recovery from the pandemic. "AIIB's 2021 Asian Infrastructure Finance Report said GVC participation across India will largely rely on a combination of improving infrastructure, strengthening institutional quality and increasing port efficiency, capacity and connectivity with the hinterland," it said.

Iraq's application to join the AIIB was approved in late December, making it the bank's 51st regional member, bringing its total membership to 105.

As of October 22, the AIIB had approved 147 projects totaling $28.97 billion in 31 countries.

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