Pranab’s second innings as G-24 skipper after 28 years

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

New York : Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is back in the saddle for a familiar role – chairman of the G-24, or group of 24 developing countries, after a gap of 28 years.

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An amused Mukherjee, who was the finance minister in the Indira Gandhi government back in 1983 too, himself recalled the coincidence in a chat with reporters here Sunday after his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Talking about his hectic schedule in Washington, where he attended the World Bank-IMF meetings over the weekend, Mukherjee said: “My problem was that we had 4-5-6 meetings every day. Then I have been elected as chairman of G-24, I mean India has been elected, after 28 years.”

“Accidentally at that point also I was finance minister and again it has happened. Normally it does not happen,” he said.

Set up in 1971 to balance the influence of the G-10 economic grouping, G-24 is tasked with coordinating the position of developing countries on monetary and development issues, particularly issues on the agendas of the IMF and the World Bank.

Mukherjee Sunday recalled another rare second coming. Asked if it was the first time that he and the prime minister were in a foreign country at the same time, he said: “No, once it happened for two days in Colombo” for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting.

The long serving minister, who is considered the number two in the union cabinet, said: “The PM told me that you keep your aircraft ready. So if needed, you can quickly leave.”

“It happened in Colombo. The year I don’t remember.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])