The World Bank has fully reengaged with the Government to support reforms that will benefit all of the people of Myanmar, including the poor and vulnerable. Comparable country data for Myanmar can't be provided at this time... Read More »
Myanmar is embarking on a triple transition – from an authoritarian military system to democratic governance, from a centrally directed economy to a market-oriented economy, and from 60 years of conflict to peace in its border areas. These transitions have the potential to create opportunity and shared prosperity for the people of Myanmar 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 untapped agricultural potential and a rich endowment of natural resources. The main share of Myanmar’s GDP (43 percent) is derived from agriculture, livestock and fisheries and forestry. This sector generates about 54 percent of employment and provides livelihoods for more than 70 percent of the population. However, once the top exporter of rice in the world, Myanmar’s rice exports now account for a negligible share of the world market. Myanmar’s exports of natural resources such as gas and gems are becoming increasingly significant. Its geographic location at the intersection of China and India, two of the world’s most dynamic economies, leave it well positioned to resume its traditional role as a regional trading hub.
Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in East Asia, with an estimated GDP per capita of between $800-$1,000 and a poverty headcount of 26 percent. The country’s GDP is estimated at US$50 billion. Most social indicators are very low. For example, 32 percent of children under five suffer from malnutrition. The poor state of and limited access to infrastructure are major impediments to providing basic health and education services, and for economic development. Almost half the roads are not passable during the monsoon season. Telecommunications and internet access is also very limited. About 75 percent of the population lacks access to electricity, and the consumption of electricity is one of the lowest in the world – 20 times less than the world average. Existing power infrastructure can only meet about half of the current demand, resulting in frequent blackouts and rationing of the electricity supply. Access to drinking water is also quite limited in many areas.
Last updated: April 2013
Myanmar first became a member of the International Bank for Development and Reconstruction in 1952, the International Financial Corporation in 1956, and the International Development Association in 1962, the three institutions that make up the World Bank Group (WBG).
The Bank financed a total of 35 projects in Myanmar until 1987. In 1998, the government went into arrears to the World Bank, but remained a member, attending its Annual Meetings.
After a nearly 25 year absence, the groundwork for re-engagement in Myanmar was laid when the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors endorsed an Interim Strategy for Myanmar in November 2012, reaffirming support for Myanmar government reforms to improve the lives of the people of Myanmar. This strategy will guide the Bank Group’s work in the country through March 2014, focusing on accelerating poverty reduction by helping to reform institutions to deliver better services to people during this critical transition period.
Under the Strategy, the Bank is helping the government improve economic governance and create conditions for growth and jobs by providing policy advice and technical assistance in three main areas:
Public financial management to transparently link budgets to development priorities
Regulatory reform to provide access to finance for microfinance borrowers and small and medium enterprises
Private sector development to promote broad-based economic growth and job creation.
The WBG is committed to working with all stakeholders – government, private sector, civil society organizations, and development partners – to encourage social accountability, and transparency as it implements this strategy.
In January 2013 the World Bank’s Board approved the Myanmar Reengagement and Reform Support credit in the amount of US$440 million. This credit facilitated the clearance of arrears to the World Bank, thereby paving the way for resumption of a full partnership to pursue Myanmar’s development objectives. In addition to helping Myanmar clear its debts to creditors, this credit is supporting critical reforms needed to strengthen macroeconomic stability, improve public financial management and improve the investment climate.
In February 2013, the government and the WBG agreed to work together on Myanmar’s urgent need for electric power, as well as improve the telecommunications and banking sectors. The Bank is discussing with the government a proposal to invest in producing 120 MW of electricity, giving people in both rural and urban areas access to reliable electricity with fewer brownouts, by refurbishing existing plants with new turbines that are 2.5 times more efficient. The new turbines will produce 250 percent more electricity with the same amount of gas.
The Bank is also supporting the National Community-Driven Development Project, which empowers rural communities to choose the investments they need most, such as roads, bridges, health clinics or other priorities. This project is funded by a grant of $80 million, and the government is contributing $6.3 million to the total cost of the project.
Last updated: April 2013
Since 1987, the Bank only supported activities that were implemented through third parties, and has provided technical support to the work of other development partners. The Avian Influenza Support project, which closed in 2011, helped strengthen Myanmar’s capacity to prevent, prepare for, and respond to highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in animal production and to reduce the risks of the infection spreading to humans. Since 2010, the Bank has been providing technical support to the Multi-Donor Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) for qualitative monitoring of livelihood interventions.