New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Asian Development Bank has no immediate plans to provide fresh assistance to Burma, even as media reports suggest that the World Bank is considering the idea of providing assistance to the military-ruled country.
ADB, in an email message to Mizzima on Tuesday, said it along with the World Bank has joined the annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) Article IV missions to Burma, including the most recent IMF mission in late 2009.
Though ADB had joined the IMF’s missions, which are conducted for analytical reports on development issues in Burma, it said, “ADB has no plans to provide new assistance to Myanmar [Burma],” but will continue to monitor and analyse the economic situation in Burma and encourage the government to undertake reforms needed to reduce poverty and uplift the living standards of the people.
The ADB stopped providing direct assistance to Burma since 1987 but it continues to monitor economic developments and maintain close coordination with other International Financial Institutes (IFIs) such as the World Bank, and the IMF.
While the World Bank had also stopped providing new lending to Burma since 1987, as the country failed to repay arrears, the Financial Times on Thursday reported that it is thinking of providing assistance to Burma.
James Adams, the World Bank’s Vice-President for East Asia and the Pacific, was reported telling the FT that officials from the bank and the ADB had recently travelled to Burma to look at “possible future analytical work that could have a positive development impact for the people”.
But any cooperation with Burma would be limited and the plan would be for World Bank specialists to proceed to Burma to provide technical assistance on projects.
“The World Bank has not provided financing to the government of Myanmar [Burma] since 1987 and we have made it clear to the government, shareholders and development partners that we have no intention of doing so under current circumstances,” Adams was quoted as saying.
But with Burma still owing US $300 million to the international financial institution, Adams said the World Bank would not lend until the arrears are cleared.
Economics Professor Sean Turnell at Sydney’s Macquarie University in Australia, who has been following Burma’s economic situation, earlier told Mizzima that the Burmese economy has been dragged to abysmal depths by the ruling junta’s mismanagement.
Burma, once known as the ‘Rice Bowl’ of Southeast Asia, since 1962, when dictator General Newin assumed power in a military coup, has been facing economic deterioration forcing the United Nations to categorize it among the Least Developed Countries (LDC).