Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is leaving tomorrow on a four-day visit to Durban in South Africa to attend a five-nation summit on March 26 and 27 that could launch a BRICS development bank and discuss ways to reform governance in international financial institutions.

He is accompanied by a high-level delegation including Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

The Prime Minister will also have an opportunity to meet with the new Chinese leadership on the sidelines of the summit, when he calls on President Xi Jinping on Wednesday.

BRICS bank

The highlight of the summit of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) is the possible setting up of the BRICS bank. But there is no clarity on its corpus.

The bank is expected to promote growth and investment in its member-states and other emerging markets and will be a strong voice in lobbying for the reform of international financial institutions.

The BRICS finance ministers, who have met four times in the past on the issue, will be meeting in Durban tomorrow ahead of the summit when a clear picture may emerge.

“There are still some issues to be resolved. If everything goes well, whatever is the final decision will be included in the summit communique,” according to officials.

“Things are moving on that and they are moving pretty fast,” they said. There has been speculation that the size of the bank could be about $50 billion.

India had last year mooted the idea of BRICs-led South-South Development Bank, mainly funded and managed by BRICS countries, to recycle surpluses into investment in developing countries for infrastructure and sustainable development projects.

The new Chinese President has backed the establishment of the BRICS bank, supporting the South African Presidency’s priority in firming up that move.