Myanmar: Jobs, Trade and Good Government

Feature | 26 October 2012

ADB is stepping up its presence in Myanmar with the launch of an Interim Country Partnership Strategy (ICPS). Principal Country Specialist Winfried Wicklein, from ADB's Southeast Asia Department, explains what the next steps will be.

What are ADB's top priority areas for Myanmar, as outlined in the Interim Country Partnership Strategy (ICPS)?

The ICPS defines ADB's medium term goal for assistance to Myanmar, i.e., to support the government in achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth and job creation. The ICPS guides ADB's re-engagement in the country in the short term, providing a framework - a planning tool - for continued analytical work and capacity building as further consultations are conducted and partnerships forged that will ultimately shape the future of ADB's assistance in Myanmar.

"The priority areas of ADB's short term focus are building human resources and capacities in key public sector agencies, promoting an enabling economic environment towards macroeconomic stability, fiscal sustainability, and enhanced trade and investment, and creating access and connectivity in rural livelihoods and infrastructure development."

The priority areas of ADB's short term focus are building human resources and capacities in key public sector agencies, promoting an enabling economic environment towards macroeconomic stability, fiscal sustainability, and enhanced trade and investment, and creating access and connectivity in rural livelihoods and infrastructure development.

ADB will put emphasis on areas such as good governance, environmental sustainability, private sector development, and regional cooperation and integration. Moreover, ADB will assist in providing knowledge that is essential to helping the government chart its transition to a market based economy, design and implement reforms and, where possible, even leapfrog development processes.

During the ICPS period ADB will develop strong partnerships with civil society, the private sector and other development partners, to ensure the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of its engagement. For instance, as an immediate priority, ADB will work closely with civil society organizations in developing a suitable engagement mechanism to help guide effective two-way communication, coordination, and collaboration.

Why are connectivity and "capacity building" important?

In the context of Myanmar, connectivity has social, economic, political, and spatial dimensions, both domestically and regionally. Its realization is critically important due to the country's long years of relative isolation, regional differences, and lack of integration of the national economy. Connectivity with neighboring countries is also necessary to allow Myanmar to take advantage of its strategic location. Connectivity requires the formation of a national consensus toward a shared development vision and goals, as well as convergence of the policies and programs of government institutions in all sectors and areas. Increased connectivity across these dimensions will help accelerate inclusive and sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty. It will enable Myanmar to narrow the development gaps within the country and with its neighbors.

With respect to capacity building, sustained support will be required to strengthen core public institutions so they can effectively manage the reform process, undertake planning and implementation of development programs and projects, coordinate external assistance, and deliver essential public services. Likewise, education and skills development have a pivotal role to play in promoting a skilled workforce and increased employment, increasing productivity and competitiveness, and help make growth more inclusive. Guided by the ICPS, ADB will provide TA grants for capacity and institutional support, as well as policy advice, to select government ministries to assist them in managing the reform process, planning and implementing development programs and projects, and improving statistics. Together with other development partners, ADB will also support the government in analytical work and planning for the education sector.

With a country partnership strategy now in place, how soon will ADB be able to resume projects, programs and lending?

Full resumption of ADB operations is contingent on the full settlement of the government's arrears with ADB, which are expected to be cleared in early 2013. Notwithstanding, ADB is already providing technical assistance to the government.