Current economic conditions in Myanmar and options for sustainable growth

Type Book
Title Current economic conditions in Myanmar and options for sustainable growth
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2003
Publisher Tufts University
In this paper, an extensive report on the economy of Myanmar prepared in 1998
is supplemented by more recent reports as of fall 2002 (included as appendices).
The economy of Myanmar is one of the poorest in South East Asia. Despite relatively
rapidly growth during the 1990’s, per capita income by 1998 was little higher than in the
middle 1980s. Inflation rates are high, the currency value has fallen sharply, and
Myanmar has one of the world’s lowest rates relative to income of government revenue
and non-military spending.
Agriculture in Myanmar has an unusually high share (59%) of GDP. Despite a high
reported growth rate, yields for most food crops have remained stagnant or dropped.
Poor price incentives and credit systems constrain agricultural production. As of 1998,
farm wages are barely enough to provide food, with nothing left over for clothing,
school fees, supplies, or medicine. Environmental problems including deteriorating
water supply and diminishing common property resources further impact the poor.
Industry suffers from limited credit, fluctuating power supplies, inflation and exchange
rate instability. A possible bright spot is offshore gas potential. However, much of the
expected revenue from offshore gas development may already have been pledged as
collateral for expenditure prior to 1998, and thus will go primarily to service debt.
Recent evidence summarized in a paper by Debbie Aung Din Taylor (Appendix 3)
indicates that most people in rural areas are much worse off today than a decade ago.
Decline in agricultural production is aggravated by severe degradation of the natural
resource base. River catchment areas are denuded of forest cover, leading to more
frequent and severe flooding. Fish stocks and water supplies are diminishing. These
trends are pervasive and reaching a critical level. Assistance is urgently needed to
provide the rural poor. Sustained international attention is needed to reverse the current
rapid decline of economy and environment.

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