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ADB to more than double loans to Burma

ADB President Takehiko Nakao shakes hands with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw on 14 June 2016. (Photo: DVB)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will more than double it loans to Burma next year, the bank’s President Takehiko Nakao announced following meetings with Burmese leaders in Naypyidaw on Tuesday.

Nakao, who was in the Burmese capital as head of an ADB delegation, met with President Htin Kyaw and State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss the needs of one of the region’s fast-growing economies.

According to a statement on the bank’s website, the value of its loans to Burma will increase from the current level of around $150 million to $350 million in 2017.

Noting that growth in Burma had slowed to 7.2 percent in the 2015 fiscal year due to devastating floods and landslides, the bank said it expected the economy to grow by 8.4 percent this year and 8.3 percent next year.

Nakao also praised the current National League for Democracy government, which came to power in April, for its efforts to get the country’s economy back on track.

“I am impressed by the government’s commitment to ensuring all citizens benefit from growth,” Nakao was quoted as saying. “ADB will support this effort by helping to promote education and quality jobs, enhance infrastructure, and attract private investment.”

Aye Aye Soe, the deputy-director of the government’s Foreign Affairs Department, said that in her meeting with the ADB president, Suu Kyi called on the bank to finance larger-scale projects.

“Our minister [Suu Kyi] told the [ADB] delegation that she would like to run large projects focusing on the infrastructure and energy sectors, rather than seeing clusters of small projects across the country,” she told DVB on Tuesday.

Burma has been a member of the Manila-based ADB since 1973, but faced isolation for much of its history with the bank due to its isolation under military rule.

That ended in 2012, a year after a quasi-civilian government backed by the army assumed power. Since then, the bank has approved six sovereign loans totaling US$892 million, according to its website.