World Bank grants $80 mln to Myanmar

World Bank grants $80 mln to Myanmar

World Bank grants $80 mln to Myanmar

People collect water at a refugee camp for Muslims displaced by violence this year outside Sittwe. The UN says 22,587 people have now been displaced. REUTERS photo

The World Bank on Nov. 1 earmarked $245 million in credit and grant funding for Myanmar under an 18-month work plan, the first lending to the southeast Asian nation in 25 years and another sign the country is opening up after years of military rule.

The interim country strategy, endorsed by the World Bank board at a meeting in Washington, will guide the institution’s work in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The bank also approved an $80 million grant for community-driven rural projects, Reuters reported.

“I am heartened by the reforms that have been taking place in Myanmar and encourage the government to continue to push forward their efforts,” Agence France-Presse quoted World Bank president Jim Yong Kim as saying. The focus will be on the “most urgent development needs” he added, citing education, health, infrastructure and the private sector to boost job creation. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund said it will send a mission to Myanmar for talks with Myanmar on a possible staff-monitored program.

Reforms fuel help

The World Bank closed its Yangon office in 1987 and ceased new lending after the then-ruling junta stopped making payments on debts worth hundreds of millions of dollars left from previous programs.
Myanmar President Thein Sein has overseen a series of dramatic reforms since taking office last year, in response, the West has begun rolling back sanctions and foreign firms are lining up to invest in the country, eyeing its huge natural resources, large population and strategic location between China and India.