Myanmar to get $2bn in aid from World Bank

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Yangon - Myanmar was to receive 2 billion dollars from the World Bank to support reforms, officials said ahead of a Monday meeting between the bank's President Jim Yong Kim and Myanmar's reformist president.

Kim, on his first visit to Myanmar, met in Naypyitaw with President Thein Sein, who has introduced sweeping reforms since coming to office in March 2011.

They have led to the lifting of most economic sanctions against the once-pariah state.

“Our 2-billion-dollar multi-year programme will support the government's plans to deliver universal health care to citizens and to help everyone in the country gain access to electricity by 2030,” Kim said Sunday when visiting a health clinic in Yangon.

“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,” he said.

Nearly 70 per cent of the population has no access to electricity, and an estimated 75 per cent lacks access to quality health care, according to the World Bank.

“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,” Kim said.

Myanmar was the target of economic sanctions between 1988 and 2010.

They were imposed by Western democracies to penalise the former ruling junta for its abuses of human rights and failure to introduce political reforms.

It is ranked among the world's poorest countries.

The country has seen dramatic changes since President Thein Sein came to office after his pro-military Union for Solidarity and Development Party won the November 2010 general election.

He has freed thousands of political prisoners, allowed Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to enter politics and welcomed foreign investments.

In 2012, Western democracies lifted most of their sanctions, leading to the return of international aid agencies such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. - Sapa-dpa

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