SA to host BRICS bank annual meeting for the first time

South Africa will be hosting the 4th Annual Meeting of the BRICS New Development Bank in Cape Town next week. It is the first time SA is hosting the meeting, which aims to help the bank better leverage investment in sustainable infrastructure development.

The meeting will be held from March 31 until April 3.

The NDB's mandate is to mobilise resources - financial or otherwise - for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS, emerging markets and other developing countries. It has already approved over $600m worth of projects for South Africa.

National Treasury is the department responsible for managing South Africa's relationship with the NDB, as well as the planning and execution of the upcoming annual meeting.

Check-in

"The meeting is according to the articles of agreement of the bank, and shareholders - the five BRICS countries - will gather to check on the financial health of the organisation and its operations, to approve the financial statements and give policy direction for the bank to take in the next year," Vuyelwa Vumendlini, deputy director-general for international and regional economic policy at National Treasury, told Fin24 on Thursday.

Paul Michael Romer, an American economist and a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, will be one of the academics attending the meeting along with, among others, China's finance minister.

South Africa's Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni is the current chair of the board of the NDB.

Infrastructure development

According to Vumendlini, one of the meeting's main aims will be to see how the bank can be used to leverage investment in sustainable infrastructure development for a better future.

"This is the first time South Africa is hosting the annual meeting.

"We hope it will be an opportunity to showcase infrastructure development projects the bank has funded," said Vumendlini.

How SA can benefit

In her view, the bank itself is not really well understood in SA.

"So now we have invited all the important stakeholders to meet the management of the bank and the governors of the bank to understand what the bank is about, what it can offer and how South Africans can leverage the bank for its own benefit," she said.

"There are opportunities for co-financing, for instance. The bank will also launch a bond in SA this year. The meeting is an opportunity for long-term investors to find out more about what kind of bond it is."

The bank's board of directors will consider projects put before them.

"South Africans can look forward to announcements of what the bank will do in South Africa next.

"So far, the bank has approved about $680m worth of projects for SA," she said.

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