Yangon, May 16, 2014 – Myanmar is advancing an ambitious agenda of reforms to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and improve the lives of all people. During his May 12-16 visit to Myanmar, Axel van Trotsenburg, the World Bank’s Vice President for the East Asia and Pacific Region, reinforced the Bank Group’s commitment to supporting these reforms. He highlighted Myanmar’s opportunities and challenges and the importance of education for lifting people out of poverty.
“I am impressed by Myanmar’s commitment to development, growing the country’s economy, creating jobs and reducing poverty through accelerated reforms,” said Van Trotsenburg, "We are also proud to work with the Government of Myanmar to help overcome its ongoing challenges in education, health and achieving shared prosperity. We firmly believe that expanding access to quality education is a critical investment for the future of the country,”
Van Trotsenburg met senior officials, including Vice President Dr. Sai Mauk Kham and Union Minister of Finance U Win Shein. He also met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, chairwoman of the National League for Democracy.
Van Trotsenburg also visited Chin state in western Myanmar to observe some of the initial results of the National Community Driven Development Project, the Bank’s first project in Myanmar in 25 years. The project enables poor, rural communities to benefit from improved access to basic infrastructure and services through a people-centered approach. The six-year project is financed by a US$80 million grant from the World Bank’s Fund for the poorest, the International Development Association (IDA), approved in November 2012. The project is empowering rural communities in 15 townships to identify and implement investments they need the most, such as roads, bridges, irrigation systems, schools, health clinics, and rural markets.
“The Myanmar National Community Driven Development Project sets a good example of how a program can empower local communities by giving them the power to manage development resources. This type of intervention effectively matches scarce resources with the priorities of local communities, who understand their needs and aspiration the best”, said Van Trotsenburg.
The Project is part of President U Thein Sein’s vision of “people-centered development” a significant shift in the way the Government interacts with communities in rural areas, the poor and historically underserved areas.
In Nay Pyi Taw, Van Trotsenburg met with the Minister of Finance U Win Shein to discuss the Bank’s commitment to a long-term partnership with Myanmar and its support to the country’s historic reforms.
“This meeting reaffirms the commitment and cooperation between the Government of Myanmar and the World Bank Group in supporting the country’s development priorities. We are working together, in partnership, to implement targeted poverty reduction programs,” said H.E U Win Shein.
Following up on Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim’s first visit to Myanmar in January, Van Trotsenburg said in addition to IDA funding, the Bank’s results-based financing can improve women and children’s access to quality, essential health services and remove out-of-pocket payments, which has been a major a barrier to health care for the poorest.
The high-level meetings served as an excellent opportunity to advance the dialogue with the government, the opposition and other stakeholders. The discussions will help the Bank Group prepare the Country Partnership Framework, which will guide the Bank’s activities in the next four years. The Bank’s support for Myanmar development over several years will benefit from ongoing analysis and improved understanding of poverty and inequality, and other development challenges to reduce extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in the country.