All Aboard: Policies for Shared Prosperity in Myanmar

Story Highlights
  • The World Bank Group has prepared a series of policy notes to promote debate and ideas on inclusive growth in Myanmar as incoming policy makers prepare to take on their new roles.
  • The policy notes highlight six priority areas – access to social services, reducing rural poverty, private sector competitiveness, financial inclusion, access to energy, and public sector governance.
  • Each policy note summarizes the context and opportunities for change, including recent reforms and developments, and highlight regional experiences and lessons.

The November 8, 2015 elections in Myanmar marked a historic milestone in the country’s political and economic transition that began in 2011. Incoming policy makers are preparing to pick up the baton and deliver on the people’s strong aspirations for a peaceful and prosperous Myanmar. In this series of policy notes, the World Bank Group seeks to promote dialogue on critical development challenges and on options for policies and reforms that can contribute to shared prosperity for the people of Myanmar.

Myanmar has the potential to follow the same path of inclusive growth as other high performing countries in the region, with a real opportunity to ensure that reforms benefit more people across geographical areas, ethnic communities and income groups. Sustaining a strong pace of growth through a diversified economy is critical to achieve this with policies that can enable a structural shift to more productive and labor intensive activities.

The six interconnected areas that are highlighted in the policy notes are a selected group of issues that together could potentially to advance an agenda of shared prosperity. Each policy note summarizes the context and opportunities for change, including recent reforms and developments. They also highlight regional experiences and lessons for Myanmar.



All Aboard

English ǀ Myanmar

Closing the gap: Expanding access to social services

English ǀ Myanmar
For the country to achieve inclusive growth, Myanmar needs to prioritize investing in its people by strengthening the country's health, education, and social protection systems. To close the service delivery gap and tackle the disparities in access that exist across geographical areas and socioeconomic groups, this policy note provides options to:

• Spend better
• Reduce the many parallel financing channels and arrangements
• Make bigger room in the budget for higher spending on social sectors while implementing measures to better use existing funds
• Harmonize financing and delivery of social services in conflict-affected areas

Growing together: Reducing rural poverty in Myanmar

English ǀ Myanmar
Myanmar’s rural communities, home to 70% of the country’s population, provide the foundation for major structural transformations in Myanmar but lag furthest behind in terms of access to economic and social services. This policy note proposes a mix of options to:

• Boost agriculture productivity
• Increase access to services
• Use data for better targeting of public resources


Breaking business as usual: Fostering competitiveness and a dynamic environment for private sector growth

English ǀ Myanmar
The positive impact of the gradual lifting of controls over factors of production and trade flows since 2011 reflects Myanmar’s strong potential for private sector-led growth. However, Myanmar’s rankings in the Doing Business survey point to a relatively large potential to tackle regulations and boost private sector activity. This policy note presents options that could help improve:

• Effective and efficient business regulations
• Trade facilitation and policy

Financing the future: Building an open, modern, and inclusive financial system

English ǀ Myanmar
The ability of the financial sector to expand both the scale and range of products and services available to private businesses, the public sector and households could play a determining role for inclusive growth in Myanmar. This policy note proposes options to phase reforms in a way that could help the system effectively and efficiently finance inclusive growth in Myanmar, such as:

• Strengthen the financial sector legal and regulatory framework
• Modernize financial infrastructure
• Reform state-owned banks
• Expand the depth of the financial sector

Energizing Myanmar: Enhancing access to sustainable energy for all

English ǀ Myanmar
The relative impact of increasing access to energy on productivity, competitiveness and inclusive growth in Myanmar could be very significant. Access to affordable power is not only critical for the expansion of productive sectors, but is also vital for the delivery of public services in urban and rural areas. This policy note proposes a mix of options to accelerate the implementation of the National Electrification Plan in a way that can achieve:

• At least 500,000 connections per year by 2020
• Improved transparency and competition in the electricity market, private sector investments and protection of vulnerable consumers
• Greater efficiency through corporatization and commercialization
• Strategic plans with environmental and social sustainability

Participating in change: Public sector accountability to all

English ǀ Myanmar
The transparency and accountability of the public sector could be a determining factor in how well and how quickly Myanmar can take forward policies for shared prosperity. The size of general government in Myanmar has historically been small relative to the country’s large service delivery needs. This policy note proposes to build on Myanmar’s step-by-step progress over the past four years, gradually introducing:

• A fair and transparent tax system
• Transparent public expenditures
• Empowerment of local authorities to meet local needs
• Public engagement in policy reform
• Minimum standards for public services