While the number of known cases of COVID-19 in Myanmar is relatively low, efforts to contain the spread of the virus have come at substantial economic cost. In Myanmar, the global pandemic has, as elsewhere, resulted in stringent operational and regulatory measures and suppressed economic activity, undermining aggregate demand, disrupting value chains, and reducing household income. Travel bans, for example, continue to negatively impact wholesale and retail trade, tourism-related services, and transportation, severely affecting the service sector, which accounts for 42 percent of the economy. Myanmar’s economic growth, which was 6.8 percent in FY2018/19, is projected to drop to 0.5% or less in FY2019/20.
The impact threatens to partially reverse Myanmar’s progress in lifting millions out of poverty and to heighten deprivation among those already poor and marginalized, many of whom are especially exposed to the effects of COVID-19 due to job insecurity, employment in the informal sector and low levels of savings.
To mitigate longer-term economic effects, Myanmar will benefit from developing keener understandings of the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on its firms and households. Partnering with the Central Statistical Organization (CSO), the World Bank has established the Myanmar COVID-19 Monitoring Platform to provide accurate and timely economic data to inform and provide key insights to the Government of Myanmar, development partners and wider civil society. The Platform is based on high-frequency phone surveys with firm and household respondents and a community assessment, in addition to existing analytical products such as the World Bank Myanmar Economic Monitor.
Started in May 2020, the high-frequency phone surveys will collect eight rounds of data by the end of 2020, adapting questionnaires to an ever-evolving situation and to changes in national regulations. The household survey of 1500 randomly selected respondents will improve understanding of how living and welfare conditions have changed in the last few months. In parallel, a phone survey of 500 firms of varying size across all economic sectors will reflect a nationally representative sample in order to better understand and assess the impacts of the crisis on firms’ operations. A separate community assessment, conducted in all states and regions, begun in July, will shed light on how communities respond to, coordinate and cope with those changes.
Collated data resources will be shared every month on this Platform. These updates will help stakeholders understand how firms, households, and communities are adapting to an ever-changing environment, and help inform appropriate programs and policies to accommodate and advance Myanmar’s speedy recovery. Recurring analysis from survey data rounds in tandem with thematic notes drafted on data insights will support policy decisions to facilitate faster, more resilient, and more equitable growth in Myanmar – one of the key areas of the World Bank Group’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.