World Bank approves US$80m in grants
Funds will primarily target poverty relief
Tellers at a private bank in Yangon
The World Bank has approved $80 million in grants for rural projects such as roads, bridges, schools and health clinics in Myanmar as part of an effort to accelerate poverty reduction in the newly opened country. The move follows a series of political and economic reforms by the new civilian government following more than five decades of military rule. “I am heartened by the reforms that have been taking place in Myanmar, and encourage the government to continue to push forward with their efforts,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong-kim. “We hope to move ahead as part of a united global community to deliver solutions to address people’s most urgent development needs, especially in areas such as health, education, and infrastructure,” he said. “We’ll also work to build up the private sector so jobs can be created.” According to BBC News, a World Bank official said another $165m will be made available once the country has cleared its overdue debt to the bank. “Our strategy has a strong focus on inclusive development and reforms that create real opportunities for all the people of Myanmar,” said Pamela Cox, World Bank East Asia and Pacific Regional Vice-President. People from business and bank sectors in Myanmar hailed the announcement. “I hope that the new aid will go toward the building of roads and bridges and tackling poverty alleviation,” said Hla Maung Shwe, vice-president of the Republic of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. “The media will play a great role… as it’s the fourth pillar of the state,” Hla Maung Shwe said, pointing out that transparency will play an important role in implementing new projects. Ye Min Oo, managing director of Kanbawza private bank called it a reward from the international community due to the reforms. “But the government needs to show transparency and responsibility,” he said.