Remarks by ADB Director General of the Southeast Asia Department Kunio Senga on 1 August 2012 at the ADB-World Bank office in Yangon, Myanmar
Excellencies, distinguished guests, colleagues from the World Bank Group and ADB, ladies and gentlemen.
It is my pleasure to be with you today for the opening of the joint World Bank-IFC-ADB office in Yangon. We have taken another step towards re-engagement with Myanmar with the opening of our office.
Looking back, since Myanmar joined ADB in 1973, ADB has financed 29 projects totaling over $530 million, and 38 technical assistance grants. The bulk of the operations was in the agriculture sector, followed by social protection, transport and energy.
Although ADB has not had any country-specific operations in Myanmar since 1988, we have continued engagement with the country through Myanmar's participation in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Program, for which ADB acts as Secretariat. Myanmar has participated actively in the GMS Program, including a number of ADB-financed regional technical assistance projects. Significantly, the 4th GMS Summit was held in Nay Pyi Taw last December, where the new GMS Strategic Framework for the next decade was launched. With our presence in Myanmar now, we are in a position soon to start extending full-scale operations in Myanmar with the benefit from our experience in working together under the GMS program.
If there is one theme we feel strongly about in Myanmar, it is that of connectivity. With its many dimensions—physical, social and economic—connectivity is particularly important for Myanmar, considering the long years of relative isolation, ethnic differences, and the country's advantageous geographical location, yet a lack of integration with the regional economy. Increased connectivity, providing access to markets, infrastructure, finance, trade and investment, will accelerate economic growth which is needed to reduce poverty and allow equitable development of the country.
For the past several months, we have been preparing initial economic and sector analyses in a number of important sectors, such as energy; transport; agriculture; urban development; and post primary education. We are now deepening the sector assessments, which will help ADB better understand the various challenges in Myanmar, and are critical for us to determine how we can best help the country.
We have initiated a series of technical assistance grants – a total of around $25 million for this year alone – to support capacity building and institutional strengthening in government, provide policy advice to design and implement reforms, and identify and prepare investment projects.
Under the theme of improving the country's connectivity, we are discussing assistance in particular in the energy and transport sectors, as well as support for maintaining macroeconomic stability and strengthening governance. We look forward to working and teaming up with partners who are interested in engaging in these sectors as well.
In supporting ADB operations in Myanmar, our office here in Yangon will strengthen policy dialogue with the Government, promote coordination and collaboration with development partners, strengthen ADB's interface with civil society and the private sector, and provide support for ADB's knowledge and economic and sector work.
Let me take this opportunity to briefly introduce our team here in Myanmar:
- Putu Kamayana, who is Head of our Extended Mission in Myanmar
- Hideaki Iwasaki, who is Principal Infrastructure Specialist, and
- Ms. Rose Thaung, who is running our office with great skill and patience.
In closing, I look forward to a robust partnership between Myanmar and ADB, building on the strengths of both parties, as well as the opportunities offered by the on-going socio-economic transformation. I also look forward to working closely with the World Bank, other development partners, and all other stakeholders in Myanmar.