Govt seeks for­eign loans to­talling over $200 mil­lion

The Myanmar Times - - News - SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

IN a let­ter sent to the Speaker of the Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw, the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice has pro­posed tak­ing loans to­talling more than US$200 mil­lion from the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank and the French De­vel­op­ment Agency to im­ple­ment a hand­ful of de­vel­op­ment projects. The loans would be di­vided among three min­istries – Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion; Ed­u­ca­tion; and Health and Sports.

The 24-year loan from the ADB, worth $185.5 mil­lion, would come at a 1.5 per­cent in­ter­est rate, while a 12year loan worth 25 mil­lion euro ($28 mil­lion) from the French De­vel­op­ment Agency would be bor­rowed with in­ter­est set at the six-month Euro In­ter­bank Of­fered Rate.

Un­der the terms of the loan agree­ments, both would of­fer an eight-year de­fer­ment.

The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion would take the lion’s share of the fund­ing, slated for $75 mil­lion from the ADB loan and the en­tirety of the French De­vel­op­ment Agency loan. The money would go to­ward im­ple­ment­ing a de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive for the agri­cul­tural sec­tor in Myan­mar’s dry zone, roughly cover­ing Magwe and Man­dalay re­gions and the Nay Pyi Taw Union Ter­ri­tory.

U Tun Win, deputy agri­cul­ture min­is­ter, told mem­bers of the Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw on Septem­ber 12 that un­der the project, the min­istry would seek to in­crease pro­duc­tion of oilseed crops, beans and pulses, and veg­eta­bles, as well as ex­pand ir­ri­ga­tion net­works and im­prove wa­ter resource man­age­ment in the dry zone.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion would be granted an al­lo­ca­tion of $98.5 mil­lion from the ADB loan. Union Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter U Myo Thein Gyi told par­lia­ment that the loan would go to­ward a scheme to cre­ate job op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple. As part of an ed­u­ca­tional re­form pro­gram cover­ing the kinder­garten through grade 12 sys­tem, the min­istry will de­velop new mid­dle and high school cur­ric­ula, and pro­mote vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing schools.

U Myo Thein Gyi also gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on a project to be im­ple­mented by the Min­istry of Health and Sports with the ADB loan’s re­main­ing $12 mil­lion. The health and safety ini­tia­tive would cover 12 town­ships in the Mekong River Basin across Kayah, Kayin, Mon and Shan states, and Tanintharyi Re­gion.

The project seeks to pro­mote co­op­er­a­tion in the Greater Mekong Subre­gion (GMS) in car­ry­ing out pre­ven­tive mea­sures and mon­i­tor­ing of com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, such as HIV, and mos­quito-borne ill­nesses such as dengue fever and malaria, at bor­der check­points.

In June, the ADB an­nounced it would “dra­mat­i­cally” in­crease lend­ing to Myan­mar. Loans to the gov­ern­ment at low in­ter­est rates are set to jump from $150 mil­lion to $350 mil­lion a year for the five years start­ing in 2017.

How­ever, sev­eral in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund, have warned of the dangers of an over­heat­ing econ­omy, say­ing it is “es­sen­tial” to tighten mon­e­tary and fis­cal poli­cies, and not drive up the bud­get deficit. The 2016-17 bud­get deficit is K3.9 tril­lion.

Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than an­nounced that MPs wish­ing to dis­cuss the pro­posed loan pro­grams can reg­is­ter to do so be­fore Septem­ber 15.

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