YANGON, August 1, 2012 – The World
Bank Group is stepping up its support for reforms in Myanmar and opening
a new country office. The Bank is preparing to present to its Board up
to $85 million in grants to benefit men, women and children through community
driven development programs which will allow communities to decide whether
to invest in schools, roads, water or other projects.
"We are committed to eradicating
poverty and the new office opening in Myanmar will allow us to reach some
of the poorest people in East Asia. They have been cut off from the global
economy for too long and it's very important that they receive real benefits
from the government's reforms," said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group
World Bank Vice President for East Asia
and Pacific Pamela Cox announced the grants in Yangon where she opened
a new World Bank Group office jointly with the International Finance Corporation
Vice President for Asia Pacific, Karin Finkelston,.
“Myanmar is among the poorest countries in the region. The needs of the
people are great – and the World Bank Group is working with partners to
support government reforms that will improve people’s lives, especially
the poor and vulnerable,” said Ms. Cox. “This will help lay the foundation
for broad economic growth, creating opportunities for all.”
Ms. Cox and Ms. Finkelston met with President U Thein Sein, cabinet members,
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other members of parliament. This was the first
visit by Bank senior leadership since Myanmar began undertaking reforms.
The World Bank grants will support a national community driven development
program providing funds to people in local communities, including in border
conflict areas. Community members will select development projects they
need and transparency will ensure that everyone can track the use of funds.
The grants are intended to build confidence
in the reform process. A recent World Bank development report on fragile
and conflict affected countries stresses the importance of generating real
economic benefits for people in fragile situations to increase the prospects
for lasting peace.
The Bank is also expanding technical
assistance and providing global expertise to help the Government deliver
services to the people. The Bank is now conducting economic research in
Myanmar to gain a better understanding of the extent of poverty, to help
expand and modernize the financial system, and enhance the business environment.
“Actions in these areas will help the
government attract responsible foreign investment, expand trade, manage
its resources better and create more jobs and opportunities for people,”
said Ms. Cox.
IFC, the member of the World Bank Group
focused exclusively on private sector development, has begun assessments
in areas critical to private sector growth such as access to finance, investment
climate, and infrastructure. The results of these assessments will form
the basis of IFC’s future program in Myanmar.
"As we have witnessed in other economies in transition, the private
sector plays a critical role in job creation and in providing the means
for all to benefit from economic growth," said Ms. Finkelston. "We
are committed to helping the people of Myanmar in the reform process and
to supporting the private sector to create jobs and opportunities for businesses
As a multilateral financial institution with 188 member countries, the
World Bank will coordinate with other development partners to ensure the
needs of the people of Myanmar are met effectively.
will have access to interest free loans from the International Development
Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, after
it clears arrears of $397 million to the World Bank.
World Bank Group is working on a new “Interim Strategy” with the Government
of Myanmar and development partners, which will guide the Bank’s work
as it prepares for a full country program.
Kanthan Shankar has been appointed Myanmar Country Manager to lead the
World Bank team in the country. Shankar has over 15 years of experience
working in conflict and post-conflict environments, including in Timor-Leste,
West Bank, Gaza and Kosovo.
Charles Schneider has been appointed IFC Resident Representative to lead
development of its program in Myanmar. Schneider has over 15 years of private
sector experience including in Southeast Asia where he has worked in Vietnam,
Cambodia and Lao PDR.
became a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
(IBRD) in 1952. The Bank has approved no new lending since 1987. In 1998,
the Government went into arrears but has remained a member of the Bank.