IMF steps up engagement with Myanmar
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WASHINGTON, Feb 5 AFP
February 06 2013, 07:05AM
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it is stepping up its policy assistance to Myanmar as the once-pariah nation undertakes economic and social reforms.
An IMF team arrived in Myanmar on January 31 "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 on Tuesday.
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 macro-economic reforms such as the managed float of the exchange rate are already bearing fruit," Singh said.
"The government recognizes there is still a long way to go and further policy reform will be essential to deliver sustained inclusive growth."
Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia after decades of economic mismanagement and isolation under army rule.
Singh pointed to Myanmar'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 Myanmar, Singh said.
Meanwhile, the World Bank, the IMF's sibling institution, on Tuesday pledged to help Myanmar 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 Myanmar, according to the development lender.