MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is resuming operations in Myanmar, with an assistance package for social and economic development that is designed to build a solid foundation for further reforms to alleviate poverty and foster growth.
"This is a historic tipping point for Myanmar," said Stephen Groff, Vice President of Operations for East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. "To be sure the country is best positioned to benefit from the resumption of donor aid, we are focusing first on the building blocks for stability and sustainability, which will ultimately lead to major investments in road, energy, irrigation and education projects, as well as investments in other sectors."
ADB's resumption of aid signals a new chapter in Myanmar's re-emergence, with key reforms in governance and the financial sector having progressed to a point where the government can work more closely with development partners to assess the country's most pressing needs, and determine a pipeline of priority projects that will help maximize opportunities resulting from the country's transformation.
ADB's first major assistance will help Myanmar develop a competitive economy by focusing on improved public finance, trade, investment, small and medium-sized enterprises, and financial sector development, building on significant measures the government has already taken, including major reforms to its central bank and trade and investment liberalization.
In rural areas, where development has been hindered by lack of infrastructure, restrictions on land usage, poorly developed support services, and limited access to financial services for farmers, ADB's funding will help develop a strategy to make banking services more widely available. It will also identify and address gaps in technical and secondary education access, enabling more of Myanmar's people to prepare for and benefit from the country's anticipated boom.
The $512 million loan, the first from ADB in almost 30 years, was made possible through bridge financing provided to the Myanmar government by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) on 17 January 2013. The loan will also be used to finalize arrears clearance and sustain government efforts to revamp the national budget process and modernize tax administration. It will also support trade policy reforms and capacity development, improve the investment climate and small and medium-sized enterprise development.