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International Relations

Urjit Patel  

Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel has been appointed vice-president of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Mr. Patel will serve a three-year term as one of the multilateral development bank’s five vice-presidents, and will take the place of former Gujarat Chief Secretary D.J. Pandian who had been, as Vice-President, leading the AIIB’s investment operations and all sovereign and non-sovereign lending in South and Southeast Asia.

Mr. Patel had resigned as RBI Governor in December 2018 in a surprise decision, citing “personal reasons” after serving for two years.

The AIIB, launched in Beijing in 2015, has approved more loans for India than any other member of the bank. China is its biggest shareholder and India is the second-largest. The U.S. and Japan are not among its 104 members.

The AIIB has funded 28 projects in India amounting to $6.7 billion. In an interview with The Hindu last year, Mr. Pandian, the outgoing Vice-President, had said the bank had “a very strong pipeline of projects” with regard to India and had transitioned away from mostly co-financing projects with the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Initially, 70-80% of the projects were co-financed but now that share of projects is standalone.

It has recently emphasised green projects and supporting public health initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, besides infrastructure. In October, India applied for loans from the AIIB and ADB to procure 667 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the ADB expected to lend $1.5 billion and the AIIB around $500 million, under the ADB’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) initiative.

Last year, the AIIB also approved a $356.67 million loan to the Indian government to support the expansion of the Chennai metro rail system.

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