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Economic growth falling short of targets

A bank staff member is pictured through stacks of kyat notes in Yangon on 10 October 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Burma has fallen short of its projected economic growth rates for the past two fiscal years, Minister for National Planning and Finance Kyaw Win acknowledged during a joint session of Parliament on Monday.

The Union minister was attending Monday’s sitting to submit a National Planning Bill covering a six-month transitional period from 1 April to September 30, when the country will adjust its fiscal year and budgeting calendar. Subsequent fiscal years will run from 1 October to 30 September, as opposed to the current 1 April to 31 March cycle.

Kyaw Win noted that GDP growth for 2016-17 was forecast to be 7.8 percent, but actual growth clocked in at just 5.9 percent. GDP growth in the first half of the current 2017-18 fiscal year stood at 6.3 percent, falling short of an estimated 7 percent.

In explaining the shortfall in GDP growth for 2016-17, the Union minister cited the forces of nature — such as flooding and El Nino — negatively impacting crop yields in some parts of the country. Burma’s economy is heavily dependent on its agriculture sector.

Kyaw Win did not offer an explanation for the disappointing growth figures through the first six months of the current fiscal year.

The Union minister told lawmakers GDP growth was forecast to hit 6.8 percent by the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Lawmakers in the Union Parliament on Monday discussed national planning priorities over the six-month transitional period as Burma moves to an October to September fiscal year in 2018.