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The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday it is stepping up its policy assistance to Burma as the once-pariah nation undertakes economic and social reforms.
An IMF team arrived in Burma on 31 January “to discuss intensification of the IMF ‘s relations” with the government, as well as civil society representatives and development partners, the global lender said in a statement.
Wrapping up the mission, the head of the team, Anoop Singh, welcomed the country’s progress since emerging from decades of military dictatorship.
“The government has made rapid strides over the last two years and important macroeconomic reforms such as the managed float of the exchange rate are already bearing fruit,” Singh said.
“The government recognises there is still a long way to go and further policy reform will be essential to deliver sustained inclusive growth.”
Burma is one of the poorest countries in Asia after decades of economic mismanagement and isolation under army rule.
Singh pointed to Burma’s recent debt rescheduling agreements with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Paris Club as a sign of the international community’s commitment to supporting the reform process.
“Discussions with the authorities focused on the importance of intensifying the already strong partnership the IMF has with the government,” Singh said.
In addition to regular IMF staff visits, the Washington-based institution will boost its capacity building program, including through increased support from The IMF ‘s technical assistance office in Thailand.
The IMF also aims to open a resident representative office in Burma, Singh said.
Meanwhile, the World Bank, the IMF ‘s sibling institution, pledged Tuesday to help Burma improve people’s access to electricity as it hailed a “new beginning” in its relations with the former pariah state.
Only one in four people have access to reliable electricity supplies in Burma, according to the development lender.