World Bank lends to Myanmar for first time in twenty-five years
The World Bank has approved an $80m grant and pledged lending for Myanmar, the second poorest country in Asia, for the first time in twenty-five years.
According to the World Bank, the money will go to rural communities to build roads, bridges, schools and health clinics. The grant comes after the current government began implementing economic, political and other reforms. Last month, the US lifted sanctions and restrictions on financial institutions lending to Myanmar.
"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 World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a statement.
Another $165m will be made available to Myanmar once the country has cleared its overdue debt to the bank, said Pamela Cox, World Bank vice-president for East Asia and the Pacific, in a conference call to reporters. Discussion on how to allocate those funds will continue in coming months.
"We want to target to creating opportunities for all the people of Myanmar, especially the poor and vulnerable," she added.
Myanmar Parliament approves investment Bill
Myanmar's Parliament has approved a foreign investment Bill. Lawmakers expect it to be signed into law quickly by President Thein Sein. His office finally came up with wording that helped end a dispute over certain clauses.
The Bill had passed back and forth between the legislative and executive branches since March. The government was eager to attract foreign investment, tycoons determined to protect their monopolies, and small businesses keen not to be shut out.
Earlier, a member of a parliamentary committee that held an emergency meeting last month to discuss the legislation provided some details on the amendments that had made the Bill passage possible.
For example, a clause requiring foreign investors to provide at least 35 per cent of start-up capital in a joint venture with local partners had been dropped.
Another controversial provision stipulated that foreigners could only own 50% of a joint venture in certain sectors deemed sensitive.
"Now it has been decided not to mention this ratio in the Foreign Investment Law since it can sting foreign investors. Instead, the ratio will be mentioned only in the relevant rules and regulations, and only if necessary," the committee member said.
"These changes were initiated by the president, so I am sure he will sign the bill when it is sent to him," said one lawmaker, who declined to be named.
"So you can be sure that the President will sign it once it is sent to his office in a few days."
Report: Myanmar Parliament okays investment Bill [The Straits Times, 2 Nov 2012] http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/world/story/myanmar-parliament-okays-investment-bill-20121102
Report: World Bank to lend to Myanmar for first time in twenty-five years [BBC News, 2 Nov 2012] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20176841