Sunday, October 14, 2012

World Bank chief expresses support for rapidly reforming Myanmar

The World Bank is working with one-time pariah Myanmar, its president said Saturday, and is helping the country to get its debts cancelled.

"We are very supportive of the current government and we'll be especially supportive as they go through further reforms," Jim Yong Kim told a news conference in Tokyo.

"We are very engaged in Myanmar right now. We're in the process of working with the government to really sort through the arrears," he said, in response to a question about development aid to the country.

"We are expecting in the early part of 2013 we will have been able to sort through the arrears, put together plans for clearing them and move forward," Kim said.

Reports said Myanmar owes the World Bank $400 million and owes the Asian Development Bank $500 million. It also owes individual countries.

Kim, who was in Japan for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, said he had met with Myanmar's leaders, including at the UN general assembly in New York.

"We're very impressed with the reforms they've gone through. But there are still ways to go. There's still more to do."

Japan vowed Thursday to resume loans to Myanmar and called on other creditor countries to chip in more, as representatives from two dozen nations and a handful of international organisations gathered in Tokyo.

"Japan is planning to resume its full programme in Myanmar with concessional loans... at the earliest possible time next year," Finance Minister Koriki Jojima told the meeting, without elaborating.

Myanmar's finance minister Win Shein called for more help, saying: "We are in the midst of an unprecedented and multi-faceted transition... from a state-centred economy to a free-market economy".

In a statement after the Thursday meeting, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank said they were "advancing necessary preparations to jointly assist Myanmar in clearing their respective arrears" early next year.

Japan agreed with Myanmar in April to forgive 300 billion yen ($3.8 billion) of the 500 billion yen it is owed.

Myanmar has been rapidly rehabilitated since polls that saw the election of a nominally civilian government, setting off a race to tap a potentially lucrative market that is rapidly opening up after years of isolation.-Interaksyon (October 14, 2012)

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