Last Updated: September 2016

A government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) took office in April 2016 in Myanmar, the first civilian government in decades. The new government has launched new economic policies and accelerated efforts for the peace process under the leadership of the state counselor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. On August 31, 2016, the Panglong 21st Century peace conference gathered government representatives, military officials, armed ethnic groups and other stakeholders in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

There are now opportunities to further deepen reforms, create shared prosperity for all, and for the country to resume its place as one of the most dynamic economies in Asia.

As the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, Myanmar has one of the lowest population densities in the region, with fertile lands, significant potential to increase its production, yields and profits in agriculture, and a rich endowment of natural resources. Its geographic location at the intersection of China and India, two of the world’s most dynamic economies, makes it well positioned to resume its traditional role as a regional trading hub and a key supplier of minerals, natural gas and agricultural produce.

Economic growth in Myanmar eased to 7 percent in 2015/16 due to a supply shock from heavy flooding, a slowdown in new investment flows and a more challenging external environment. The heavy floods in July 2015 affected some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country and caused inflationary pressures.  Medium-term growth is currently projected to average 8.2 percent per year.

Poverty in Myanmar is concentrated in rural areas, where poor people rely on agricultural and casual employment for their livelihoods.  Many live near the poverty line and are sensitive to economy-wide shocks. Since the majority of the poor are engaged in small scale agriculture, they may be shielded from recent inflationary pressures but the urban poor are likely to be highly affected by recent bouts of food price inflation.

Among ASEAN countries, Myanmar has the lowest life expectancy and the second-highest rate of infant and child mortality. Just one-third of the population has access to the electricity grid and road density remains low at 219.8 kilometers per 1,000 square kilometers of land area.  With the liberalization of the telecommunications sector in 2013, mobile and internet penetration has increased significantly from less than 20% and 10% in 2014, to 60% and 25% respectively.  Establishing a credible and consistent policy and regulatory environment in the telecommunications sector can help ensure steady private investments and growth.   

Last Updated: September 2016

In 2015, the World Bank Group (WBG) completed a Country Partnership Framework (CPF), its first full strategy for Myanmar since 1984. The CPF outlines how the global knowledge, financing, and convening services of the WBG can support Myanmar and its people in transforming their country, reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. 

The CPF draws on the findings of the Systematic Country Diagnostic carried out by the World Bank Group in 2014, lessons learned from implementation since the WBG re-engagement in 2012, and extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders in 2014.

The CPF covers a period of three years.  A performance and learning review (PLR) is under preparation, and will allow for adjustments – and possibly an extension of the CPF period - based on changes in country context, emerging priorities of the new government, lessons learned to date in implementing the CPF, and the availability of new census, poverty and labor force data.

The CPF focuses on three areas:

Reducing rural poverty. At least 70 percent of Myanmar’s poor live in rural areas, reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity will entail increasing access to essential services, economic opportunities and markets. The WBG is providing support to help increase agricultural incomes and productivity, rural electrification, community-driven investments in local infrastructure and services, improve Ayeyarwady River navigation and flood control, and reduce vulnerability to shocks.

Investing in people and effective institutions for people. Successful empowerment and inclusion will depend on citizens who are able to make a better future for themselves and on transparent institutions that allow people to do so. The WBG is providing targeted support to help Myanmar approach universal access to and improve the quality of essential social services, especially health and education and, over time, skills development to empower people to participate in a growing economy. The WBG also provides support for state institutions to deliver services effectively, including at the local level. This support is expected to contribute to improved governance in selected sectors as well as more broadly for the citizens of Myanmar.

Supporting a dynamic private sector to create jobs. Reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity will entail diversification beyond extractive-based industries. Increased openness and integration will result in higher growth as labor reallocates to more productive sectors and trade drives innovation and productivity. The WBG is helping to foster inclusive growth and a vibrant private sector that will create jobs through investments and support for markets, trade and modern financial institutions.

Last Updated: September 2016

National Community-Driven Development Project (NCDDP). The project is empowering villagers to choose, plan, build, and monitor small infrastructure projects that communities need most, such as bridges, roads, health clinics, and schools. Since becoming effective in January 2013, the project has grown from an initial IDA grant of $80 million to approximately $554 million, including a $400 million additional financing from IDA, and concessional loans and grants from the Governments of Italy and Japan. Scheduled to run until 2021, the project is expected to reach about 7 million people in rural communities across Myanmar. 

Currently operating in 47 rural townships across the country, about 5 million people in over 9,000 rural communities will gain better access to improved community infrastructure.  Communities have also built or rehabilitated more than 500 schools, constructed over 500 km of footpaths and roads, and jointly designed and implemented more than 2,100 sub-projects.

Education. The Ministry of Education’s school grants program transfers funding to schools ranging from 400,000 kyat ($325) to more than 10,000,000 kyat ($8,100) per year, depending on the school size. The school grants program has  improved in several ways: (i) more resources are now flowing to schools; (ii) the flow of resources have become more regular; (iii) schools have been granted more autonomy on how they spend resources; and (iv) community participation and oversight have increased with regard to how the funds are spent.

The stipends program, which benefits children in grades 5-11, provides 5,000 and 10,000 kyat ($4 and $8) per month to students depending on the grade level. Over 37,000 students in eight townships in the school year 2014-15, and over 100,000 students in 27 townships in 2015-16, received stipends.  The program expanded to a total of 55 townships in school year 2016-17. An assessment of early grade reading results was completed for the Yangon region in 2014, for the selected townships in 2015and for the Bago West region in 2016 respectively.  The results are used to quantify and pinpoint struggling students, as well as identify interventions that could help improve learning outcomes. It is expected to pilot a reading intervention before the end of school year 2016-17.

Energy. Under the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, the National Electrification Plan (NEP) aims to provide 7.2 million households with electricity and achieve universal access to electricity by 2030. The NEP calls for investments of $5.8 billion over the next 15 years to expand national and off-grid areas. To support NEP implementation, the World Bank approved $400 million IDA loan in late 2015 to Myanmar. With IDA funds, 6.2 million people, 23,000 public facilities (health clinics, schools, and religious and other community buildings) and 151,000 public street lights will be connected.

Agriculture. Under the Agricultural Development Support Project, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation aims to increase incomes of 120,000 farmers through improvement and rehabilitation of 35,000 hectares of existing irrigation systems, better management of land and water resources, and the delivery of agricultural services by 2022. IDA provided $100 million in April 2015 to achieve the project objectives in Bago, Nay Pyi Taw, Mandalay, and Sagaing Regions of Myanmar.

The WBG is contributing to informed debate and decision-making on development policy within a rapidly changing Myanmar by periodically bringing most recent economic data and analysis on development issues to government policy makers, think tanks, civil society and citizens. The WBG is also undertaking analytical and diagnostic works on agricultural and energy sector, poverty assessment and trade.

The WBG has released a number of reports, including Myanmar Economic Monitors which look at economic developments and reforms twice a year, Myanmar’s first ever Public Expenditure Review which provides options to  align Union Budget policies to development priorities, Qualitative Social and Economic Monitoring on changes in rural life and livelihoods, Capitalizing on Rice Export Opportunities and Managing Rice Price Volatility on the development of rice value chain and enabling sector policies, Analysis of Farm Production Economics on constraints to raise farm productivity and profits, and the Investment Climate Assessment which reviews the main bottlenecks to private investment and job creation in Myanmar.

In 2015, under the leadership of Myanmar government, the WB along with other development partners conducted a Post-Disaster Needs Assessments (PDNA) to highlight the extent of damage to the economy affected by severe, widespread floods and landslides occurred in July and August 2015 in Myanmar. The purpose of the assessment is to help inform the country’s recovery efforts by the government and development partners.

In late 2015, the WBG prepared six policy notes presenting policy options to increase shared prosperity in Myanmar and help inform the design of economic and social programs of the new administration. The policy notes discuss expanding access to social services, reducing rural poverty, enhancing competiveness of the private sector, promoting an inclusive financial sector, and ensuring sustainable energy and enhanced public sector accountability.

IFC, the private sector development arm of the WBG, helps government implement reforms that improve the business environment and encourage and retain investment, thereby fostering competitive markets, growth, and job creation in line with the CPF. IFC has focused on improving the investment climate in Myanmar, both through regulatory reforms (e.g., drafting new Investment Law, Myanmar Business Forum, Doing Business reform, Credit Bureau, Secured Transactions Reform, Corporate Governance, and Environment and Social Sustainability Performance Standards) and support for infrastructure, including power, telecom, and ports.

IFC has invested more than $350 million in the information, transportation, tourism, construction, retail, and finance sectors in Myanmar.  It is also supporting Myanmar’s energy sector.  IFC has successfully grown its financial markets program by investing in two local banks, Yoma Bank and Myanmar Oriental Bank, and two MFIs, Acleda and Fullerton, with a plan to expand more its portfolio in the micro-finance sector. IFC’s engagement with local banks and microfinance institutions will help expand access to critical finance for individuals and micro, small, and medium enterprises.


Myanmar: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments