After a 20-year absence, the World Bank is back in Myanmar.
The World Bank Group’s board of directors last week endorsed a new Interim Strategy for Myanmar and a US$80 million grant targeted at improving rural communities.
A further $5 million will go towards supporting conflict-hit communities, while the bank also said it plans to provide a further $165 million in low-interest loans once Myanmar clears its debts.
The new strategy will guide the World Bank’s work in Myanmar for the next 18 months, focusing on accelerating poverty reduction by helping reformed institutions to deliver better services to people during this critical transition period.
“I am heartened by the reforms that have been taking place in Myanmar, and encourage the government to continue to push forward with their efforts,” said Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank Group.
“We hope to move ahead as part of a united global community to deliver solutions to address people’s most urgent development needs, especially in areas such as health, education, and infrastructure, and we’ll also work to build up the private sector so jobs can be created.”
Under the Interim Strategy, the World Bank Group will help the government improve economic governance and create conditions for growth and jobs by providing policy advice and technical assistance in three main areas: public finance management, regulatory reform and private-sector development.
Analytical work, including a financial accountability assessment, a public expenditure review, and an investment climate assessment are under way to underpin these efforts.
While institutional change is a long term effort, the Interim Strategy aims to build confidence in reforms by bringing visible benefits to local communities, and strengthening the role of civil society to engage with the government.
“Our strategy has a strong focus on inclusive development and reforms that create real opportunities for all the people of Myanmar,” said Pamela Cox, the bank’s vice president for East Asia and the Pacific.
“Transitions take time, but we are committed to working with all our partners to ensure that poor people start to feel the benefits of reforms quickly, especially through better services from the government.”