FM Sitharaman discusses debt restructuring with heads of World Bank, IMF

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 26 (ANI) A debt roundtable on Saturday co-chaired by Union Finance Minister Sitharaman jointly with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank chief David Malpass, brought together key stakeholders to understand debt restructuring challenges and address debt vulnerabilities.

The debt roundtable was held on the sidelines of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) meeting.

During the session, the finance minister flagged the need to acknowledge today’s diverse creditor landscape and build a common understanding of challenges and ways to address them.

Sitharaman called for the voices of the vulnerable and under-represented debtor countries to be heard through the G20.

IMF Managing Director Georgieva and World Bank chief Malpass called for faster debt restructuring processes and noted the debt forum was an opportunity to work together and help vulnerable countries.

Differences surfaced over the war in Ukraine and on resolving the debt burden of distressed developing nations, participants in the meeting said.

There was no consensus on how to describe the conflict in Ukraine, delegates said.

On the subject of debt restructuring, there are some disagreements over restructuring debt for distressed economies, the IMF chief said.

The managing director said, "On debt restructuring, while there are still some disagreements, we now have the global sovereign debt roundtable with consideration of all public and private creditors," IMF Managing Director Georgieva told reporters.

"I think there has to be a statement in the communique condemning Russia’s war, I think it is absolutely necessary," she told reporters.

"And I think the G7 is certainly united on that, so it’s something that I would expect and I think is necessary and appropriate," she said.

Apple-Google expanded phone production in India, eager to deepen ties with tech sector, says US Treasury SecretaryUnited States Treasury Secretary Janet L Yellen on Saturday said that technology companies like Apple and Google have expanded their phone production in India, and as the US looks forward to the future, she is eager to deepen ties in the technology sector.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, along with various G20 delegations, also visited the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) on Saturday for the ‘Walk the Talk: Meeting with Tech Innovators’ event which was part of the First Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) meeting.

This session focuses on innovators who are trying to use technology to bring about inclusive development at affordable rates. Director of IISc Govindan Rangarajan was also present on the occasion.

In one of its tweets, the official handle of the finance ministry, said, "The stalls and exhibits include products and innovations from a range of sectors including EVs (electric vehicles), semiconductors, technology in infrastructure, water recycling, developing vaccines and medical technologies, treating industrial wastewater and thrusters for satellites in space."Union finance minister Sitharaman, along with other finance ministers and delegates of G20 countries, also watched a presentation on the iconic Chenab Railway Bridge during the ‘Walk the Talk’ event. The world’s highest railway bridge will fulfill the dream of connecting the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country, according to one of the tweets from the finance ministry.

"This engineering marvel is a part of the Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project made up of steel and concrete arch bridge stationed at the height of 359 m (1,178 ft) above Chenab River, making it the world’s highest rail bridge," the official Twitter handle of the ministry said.

The delegates witnessed various stalls of advanced health care equipments during ‘Walk the Talk’ session. During the pandemic with support from PM-CARES, 30,000 CV200 advanced ICU ventilators were delivered in record time, according to another tweet.

The finance minister visited the stall of ART-PARK -- an initiative of IISc-Bangalore -- focused on artificial intelligence, robotics drones and their applications in industries like — health care, agriculture, and defence.

The delegates also watched a demonstration of liquid fertiliser delivery through drones. In Budget 2022-23, Kisan drones were announced to assess crops, digitise land records as well as spray pesticides, insecticides and other nutrients, the finance minister said in a tweet.

[{8c1f6e67-875a-4c85-95ec-d2c00a28aa49:intradmin/ANI-20230225132935.jfif}]Yellen was speaking at the roundtable with US and Indian Tech Business Leaders in Bengaluru on the sidelines of the first Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting under the India’s G20 Presidency.

"I am eager to deepen out ties in the technology sector. The US is advancing an approach called "friendshoring" to bolster the resilience of our supply chains. We are doing this by strengthening integration with our many trusted trading partners-including India. We are seeing progress, as an example, technology companies like Apple and Google have expanded their phone production in India," Yellen said.

Janet said through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), the US is investing in digital technologies that will drive inclusive and resilient growth in India.

Under PGII, the US has announced investment in agri-tech to enable climate-smart agricultural production, and in digital payments systems for micro-entrepreneurs, Yellen said, adding that these stand alongside investments, in renewable energy, health and other infrastructure sectors in India.

Overall, the secretary said the US aims to mobilise USD 200 billion through 2027 for PGII and the US looks forward to partnering with India to continue investing in future.

The Roundtable was attended by top chief executives like Sandip Patel from IBM, Nandan Nilekani from Infosys, Nivruti Rai from Intel, Rishad Premji from Wipro, Josh Foulger from Foxconn, Vikram Rai from GE, Rekha Menon from Accenture, Alexander Slater from US India Business Council (USIBC) and Nivedita Mehra from US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).

Yellen’s said that US is India’s biggest trading partner.

"In 2021, our bilateral trade was over USD 150 billion. Our people-to-people ties affirm the closeness of our relationship. 2 lakh Indians are studying in America and enriching our schools and universities," she said, adding, "We depend on each other on a daily basis. Indians use WhatsApp to communicate and many American companies rely on Infosys to operate."Yellen’s last visit to India was in November for the US-India Economic and Financial Partnership.

Nandan Nilekeni, Non-Executive Chairman, Infosys, said Infosys has 330,000 global workforce. Infosys has strong base in the US. A world-class training centre in Indianapolis meant for only American people.

Nilekeni said, "We have recruited 7,000 fresh graduates this year. We work with all the US universities and have education institutes with 1,200 teachers in the US and we want to expand that."Nilekani said that Infosys runs India’s tax system at the backend. "Entire income tax and goods and services tax (GST) system is run by Infosys at the backend which is all digital and paperless," he added.

He also said that US has invented internet and global positioning system (GPS). "We realised that if we enable public infrastructure through the government at scale and make it open standard at the level playing field and being innovator at top, magic like Aadhar, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) happens," Nilekani added.

Sandip Patel, Managing Director, IBM India/South Asia said that it was great to meet and discuss the strengthening India-US trusted technology partnership.

"Proactive policy measures on critical and emerging tech will bolster friend-shoring and benefit economy and people of both nations," he added.

IMF chief says the world should have more regulation for private cryptocurrenciesGeorgieva on Saturday said the world should have more regulation for private cryptocurrencies.

Speaking to the mediapersons on the sidelines of the G20 Meeting in Bengaluru, she said, "private crypto assets are not money."She urged for a strong push for regulation and added, "If regulation fails, if you’re slow to do it, then we should not take off the table or banning those assets, because they may create financial stability risk..."The IMF MD said crypto could lead to financial stability issues and the world should have more regulation for private cryptocurrencies.

She said India is the bright spot in the global economy. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva was speaking to reporters after the roundtable she co-chaired with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

"2023 is a challenging year because global growth is slowing down," Georgieva said, adding, "War in Ukraine is a grave of uncertainty."On the subject of debt restructuring, there are some disagreements over restructuring debt for distressed economies, the IMF chief said at a time when Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan are seeking urgent IMF funds for the economic slowdown, and macroeconomic and geopolitical trends caused by the Russia-Ukraine war and Covid-19 pandemic.

"On debt restructuring, while there are still some disagreements, we now have the global sovereign debt roundtable with consideration of all public and private creditors," she added. (ANI)