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‘India can lead G20 on education, climate and debt sustainability’: World Bank President

World Bank President David Malpass points to India’s involvement in debt restructuring in Sri Lanka and as a major creditor of African countries, calls the country a leader in education

World Bank President David Malpass points to India’s involvement in debt restructuring in Sri Lanka and as a major creditor to African countries, calls the country a leader in education

Debt sustainability, education and climate action are three potential areas for India when it takes over the chairmanship of the Group of Twenty (G20) in December this year, said World Bank President David Malpass.

“There is a potential focus on debt,” Mr. Malpass to reporters at a Friday morning briefing ahead of the World Bank’s annual IMF meetings here in Washington.

“I think the world is at a point where progress can be made towards a more effective common framework,” he said, highlighting the fact that India is a creditor to Sri Lanka and also to some of the “heavily indebted countries of Africa”. India has given about $4 billion in aid to Sri Lanka this year and is involved in restructuring its debt.

“So as G20 president [sic] India has a chance there,” Malpass said. His comments on debt sustainability are a priority and echo those made by Secretary of State S. Jaishankar during his visit to the United Nations and the US that concluded last week.

“I’ve talked about that with Prime Minister Modi and … he … and India are aware that there is also debt in countries nearby, so it is very relevant for India,” said Mr. malpass.

The World Bank president said there was a very worrying increase in educational poverty – with 70% of children in developing countries unable to read basic texts – and that India could play a leading role in education. He went on to describe the educational downturn caused by the COVID-19 school closures, including children losing interest because they couldn’t keep up with their class/class, and declining education spending.

“For the Indian G20, this is a great opportunity. India is a leader in education,” said Mr Malpass, adding that climate would also be a key focus as advanced and developing countries work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate problems

You see the importance of [ climate change] adjustment for many of the countries in terms of saving lives on the ground. That will be a focus of [ the November 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference in ] Sharm el Sheikh and it is also incredibly important for India and for the G20 as a whole,” said Malpass.

In terms of his assessment of the Indian economy, Mr Malpass said India had suffered from rising interest rates and inflation, globally, as well as climate events. However, the expansion of the social safety net during the COVID pandemic has been a mitigating factor, as has digitization (which is increasing the effectiveness of the net), Mr Malpass said.

The World Bank on Thursday cut India’s growth forecast for FY22-23 by 1 percentage point to 6.5%.

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