IMF urges Myanmar to focus on poverty reduction

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Myanmar-PovertyThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Myanmar to “urgently prioritise” tackling widespread poverty.

“As Myanmar opens up and expands, it needs the structural foundations of a modern economy. This is an urgent priority,” IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in a speech to students at the Yangon Institute of Economics.

Lagarde was in Yangon on December 7 on her first official trip to the country. She met with a range of government officials and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Three-quarters of the population have no access to electricity… only 1 per cent of the population uses the internet,” she said.

High annual growth rates and a large, untapped domestic market, have triggered a surge of interest from foreign investors, but Lagarde pointed out that 26 per cent of the country’s population still lives below the poverty line.

“The next step is to build on these gains and take the path of sustained, strong, and inclusive growth to lower poverty and lift the prospects of everyone in Myanmar,” she said. “Clearly, too many people are not yet equipped for the economy of tomorrow.”

She highlighted the importance of agriculture to the country’s economy, pointing out it accounted for over a third of GDP and more than half of all employment. She also urged the government to boost spending on health and education which account for, respectively, just 1.5 per cent and 1.7 per cent of GDP – the lowest in the ASEAN region.

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Reading Time: 1 minute

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Myanmar to “urgently prioritise” tackling widespread poverty.

Reading Time: 1 minute

Myanmar-PovertyThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Myanmar to “urgently prioritise” tackling widespread poverty.

“As Myanmar opens up and expands, it needs the structural foundations of a modern economy. This is an urgent priority,” IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in a speech to students at the Yangon Institute of Economics.

Lagarde was in Yangon on December 7 on her first official trip to the country. She met with a range of government officials and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Three-quarters of the population have no access to electricity… only 1 per cent of the population uses the internet,” she said.

High annual growth rates and a large, untapped domestic market, have triggered a surge of interest from foreign investors, but Lagarde pointed out that 26 per cent of the country’s population still lives below the poverty line.

“The next step is to build on these gains and take the path of sustained, strong, and inclusive growth to lower poverty and lift the prospects of everyone in Myanmar,” she said. “Clearly, too many people are not yet equipped for the economy of tomorrow.”

She highlighted the importance of agriculture to the country’s economy, pointing out it accounted for over a third of GDP and more than half of all employment. She also urged the government to boost spending on health and education which account for, respectively, just 1.5 per cent and 1.7 per cent of GDP – the lowest in the ASEAN region.

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