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The World Bank has pledged $2 billion in development aid to Burma for projects such as healthcare and energy supply.
Bank president Jim Yong Kim announced the package during his first visit to the country, saying the aim of the aid was to tackle poverty.
“We are increasing our support for the huge reform effort under way in Myanmar because we want to help the government bring benefits to poor people even more quickly,” he said.
“Expanding access to electricity in a country like Myanmar can help transform a society. Children will be able to study at night, shops will stay open, and health clinics will have lights and energy to power life-saving technology. Electricity helps brings an end to poverty.”
Almost 70 percent of Burma’s population are not connected to the national grid. Kim said that improving power supplies is key to the country’s development.
The World Bank shut its offices in Rangoon almost three decades ago when the ruling military junta defaulted on repayments.
However, since President Thein Sein was elected in 2011, a policy of economic and political reform has taken root, and the Burmese government was able to clear its arrears to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank with the help of a Japanese bridge loan last year.
The World Bank said in November that Burma’s economy is projected to grow at 6.8 percent in 2013/14, rising to 6.9 percent in the medium term. However, it raised concerns about the country’s inflation which hit 7.3 percent in August.