NAY PYI TAW, MYANMAR – Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao, who is visiting Myanmar to attend the ASEAN Finance Ministers meeting, met with Myanmar’s President U Thein Sein and senior government officials today to discuss ADB’s support in helping address the country’s development challenges and in realizing its opportunities.
Mr. Nakao commended Myanmar’s program of economic and social reforms and reaffirmed ADB’s support for the country’s push to accelerate growth and to cut poverty. He stressed the importance of continuing to pursue sound economic policies, enhancing structural reform, and boosting the investment climate to attract much needed investment. He highlighted the critical role of peace and stability for inclusive and sustainable growth and development.
“Myanmar has undergone an unprecedented transformation since it announced a series of reforms three years ago and ADB is keen to support investment in the energy, transport, urban, agriculture, and social sectors such as education and health, which help build the foundations for inclusive growth,” Mr. Nakao said.
Myanmar’s economy has expanded rapidly since 2012, fuelled by investment, on the back of improved business confidence, commodity exports, buoyant tourism, and credit expansion. Economic growth for the year to end March 2014 is estimated at 7.5% and this is expected to pick up to an annual rate of 7.8% for each of the next two fiscal years, according to ADB’s latest Asian Development Outlook, its annual flagship economic publication.
A recent ADB study noted that the country could reach upper middle-income status by 2030 if it overcomes development challenges, but currently about a quarter of the population lives below the national poverty line.
ADB resumed operations in Myanmar in 2012 and is providing concessional loan assistance to improve power and transport. It is also engaged in technical assistance and grant projects in post-primary education and skills development, rural livelihoods, off-grid rural renewable energy, HIV/AIDS prevention, and capacity building.
Mr. Nakao emphasized the importance of ensuring development projects include the necessary safeguards to protect fragile environments and affected communities.
Moving forward, Myanmar should also continue to improve legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks to encourage more public-private partnerships, which will help accelerate the rollout of much-needed infrastructure and take some pressure off national resources.