By NJ Thakuria
Guwahati, June 15
Asian Development Bank (ADB) appreciates the ‘successful political transition’ in Myanmar’s development in the recent past and assures all possible supports in promoting education, quality jobs and enhance infrastructures in the southeast Asian country.
The ADB president Takehiko Nakao recently met with Myanmar’s President U Htin Kyaw and the Burmese foreign minister Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the country’s development prospects, macroeconomic and structural priorities. Nakao also extended ADB’s support to the new Burmese regime in NayPyiTaw.
Nakao also exchanged views on how the ADB can help Myanmar accelerate infrastructure investment with the planning & finance minister U Kyaw Win along with his deputy U Maung Maung Win, construction minister U Win Khaing, electricity & energy minister U Pe Zin Tun, transport & communication minister U Thant Sin Maung during his visit to the country.
In a statement issued on 14 June 2016, the ADB declared that it would expand annual sovereign concessional lending for projects from about $150 million to $350 million from 2017, with a strong focus on infrastructure and job creation. The manila based financial institution also announced to expand its lending, equity investment and guarantees to the Myanmar’s private infrastructure and finance sector.
“The successful political transition is a landmark in Myanmar’s development and an encouraging sign for further socioeconomic progress,” commented the ADB president adding, “I am impressed by the government’s commitment to ensuring all citizens benefit from growth.” It may be mentioned that Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia backed by the infrastructure development, foreign direct investment, manufacturing, and a robust service sector including tourism.
The ADB expects Myanmar’s economy will grow at 8.4% in FY2016 (ending 31 March 2017) and 8.3% in FY2017, after slowing to 7.2% in FY2015 due to devastating floods & landslides. The inflation is forecast to moderate this year but remains high at 9.5%. The current account deficit is seen narrowing to 8.3% of gross domestic product, down from 8.9% in FY2015.
Nakao welcomed the Burmese government initiatives to increase infrastructure investment through public-private partnerships (PPPs) in telecommunications and power generation. The time needed to register a business has been reduced from more than 2 months to less than 3 days. Further improvement of the business environment is essential to attract foreign direct investment, which would boost financial resources as well as transfer of knowledge and technology, asserted the ADB chief.
The ADB statement highlighted that the progress is being made in Burmese social development such as improvements in the enrolment in and quality of primary school education. To help address the scarcity of skilled workers in the country, the ADB has been supporting curriculum reform in secondary education and technical and vocational education and training.
Myanmar joined the ADB in 1973 and the financial institution resumed operations in the country in 2012 and has since approved six sovereign loans totaling $892 million—including $512 million used for a special program loan in 2013 to support macroeconomic reform and restructure arrears—and five grant projects under the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction for $39 million.
The ADB also approved four non-sovereign projects, through loans, equity investments and guarantees, since 2014, totaling $932 million including co-financing of $440 million by commercial banks, in telecommunications, logistics, urban development and power generation.