By Daniel Hunter

A new Interim Strategy for Myanmar was endorsed by the World Bank Group’s Board of Directors reaffirming support for reforms to improve the lives of the people of Myanmar.

The Strategy will guide the World Bank Group’s work in the country for the next 18 months, focusing on accelerating poverty reduction by helping reform institutions to deliver better services to people during this critical transition period.

“I am heartened by the reforms that have been taking place in Myanmar, and encourage the government to continue to push forward with their efforts,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President. “We hope to move ahead as part of a united global community to deliver solutions to address people’s most urgent development needs, especially in areas such as health, education, and infrastructure, and we’ll also work to build up the private sector so jobs can be created.”

Under the Interim Strategy, the World Bank Group will help the government improve economic governance and create conditions for growth and jobs by providing policy advice and technical assistance in three main areas:

- Public financial management, to transparently link budgets to development priorities
- Regulatory reform, to provide access to finance for microfinance borrowers and small and medium enterprises
- Private sector development, to promote broad-based economic growth and job creation
- Analytical work, including a financial accountability assessment, a public expenditure review, and an investment climate assessment are underway to underpin these efforts.

While institutional change is a long term effort, the Interim Strategy aims to build confidence in reforms by bringing visible benefits to local communities, and strengthening the role of civil society to engage with the government.

“Our strategy has a strong focus on inclusive development and reforms that create real opportunities for all the people of Myanmar,” said Pamela Cox, World Bank East Asia and Pacific Regional Vice President. “Transitions take time, but we are committed to working with all our partners to ensure that poor people start to feel the benefits of reforms quickly, especially through better services from the government.”

The Interim Strategy was developed through extensive consultations with stakeholders including: government, development partners, academia, civil society organizations and the private sector. It was prepared jointly with IFC, the member of the World Bank Group focused on private sector development in developing countries.

“Developing Myanmar’s private sector will be important to generate concrete benefits for the citizens of Myanmar such as jobs and economic opportunities,” said IFC Vice President for Asia Pacific, Karin Finkelston. ”IFC is seeking to improve access to finance in the country so that businesses can expand and hire people. We are also working together with the World Bank in assessing Myanmar's investment climate and infrastructure needs, with an initial focus on helping to connect people and businesses through better telecom services and providing reliable power that will help firms to thrive.”

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