An ADB without a president?

The Asian Development Bank logo. Photo by: Eliza Villarino / Devex

Haruhiko Kuroda’s exit will create a vacuum at the Asian Development Bank’s helm. Here’s what to expect in the meantime.

ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda last week announced his intention to step down from office March 18, in the face of his nomination as the Bank of Japan governor. Shuffling among the ADB’s top ranks is expected in the weeks leading up to Kuroda’s departure.

Ann Quon, ADB’s principal director for external relations, told Devex today that the nomination, election and other procedural requirements for the selection of the next ADB president will take about six to eight weeks.

With barely two weeks left before Kuroda’s exit, the ADB presidency could be vacant for weeks to come. Could any major changes or turmoil in ADB’s operations be expected during this time?

The answer is no, as the ranking ADB vice president will take the reigns in the interim.

“In the absence or incapacity of the President, the ranking Vice-President exercises the authority and performs the functions of the President,” said Quon, quoting the ADB charter.

The person of the hour then is Bindu N. Lohani, the vice president for knowledge management and sustainable development. An ADB veteran, Lohani began working for the bank in 1985 as an environment specialist, and made his way up the ranks through the years as the head of operations for various departments and offices, including that for treasury and budget. He is a civil engineer and an environmental engineer by training and have attended several management development programs at Yale University, Cornell University and the University of Chicago.

While it may be supposed that Lohani could be a likely candidate for the presidency, the ADB traditionally favors Japanese leaders. All ADB presidents have been Japanese since the bank’s inception in 1966, with Japan and the United States as the top shareholders. Under ADB’s charter, the president must be a national of a regional member country, which writes American candidates off the equation, allowing Japan control over the office. Lohani, while Nepalese by birth and is thus eligible, would be a temporary figure at ADB’s helm.

The selection of the next ADB president will soon begin with the nomination of candidates and will be capped off by a conduct of a vote by the board of governors. Quon said nominations will be fielded by the chairman of the ADB board of governors — presently, Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram — from among the other ADB governors. The next president will be put in place by a majority vote of the total number of governors, representing not less than a majority of the total voting power of the members.

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About the author

  • Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a former Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covered the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business, and the law.