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Home > Main Library > Social issues (under construction) > Poverty and poverty-reduction in Burma/Myanmar

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Poverty and poverty-reduction in Burma/Myanmar

Individual Documents

Title: Myanmar's Cycle of Debt
Date of publication: 09 August 2018
Description/subject: "With its gleaming new shopping malls and high-rise apartment blocks, Yangon has become the symbol of Myanmar's rapid economic growth. Yet in its poorest neighbourhoods, 85 percent of households are borrowing money from loan sharks, just to cover their basic living expenses. While the loans may rescue them from an immediate financial emergency, the interest rates - which range from five percent daily to 60 percent monthly - trap borrowers in a perpetual cycle of debt. As families struggle to make their repayments, many send their children out to work. Aung Thet Paing's mother decided to take him and his brother out of school and put them to work as rubbish collectors after her debts began spiralling out of control. They now spend their days searching for plastic bottles and tin cans that they can trade in for cash. It's a relentless task, particularly in the summer months when temperatures can soar to 40 degrees Celsius [≈ usually fatal human fever]. "I want to go back to school," says Aung Thet Paing. "When I see my friends, I feel sad. I cry because I can't go to school. Now, I have chosen to work, because there is no one to help mum." Myanmar has one of the worst rates of underage employment in the world. The government estimates that there are 1.3 million child labourers, many of whom are working to help pay off their parents' debts. 101 East travels to the slums of Yangon to meet the families drowning in debt and those making money from their misery."
Language: Burmese; English narration and subtitles
Source/publisher: Aljazeera (101 East)
Format/size: Adobe Flash or html5 (25 minutes)
Date of entry/update: 10 August 2018

Title: Policies for Shared Prosperity in Myanmar (English, Burmese ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 23 February 2016
Description/subject: INTRODUCTION: "The November 8, 2015 elections in Myanmar marked a historic milestone in the country’s political and economic transition that began in 2011. Incoming policy makers are preparing to pick up the baton and deliver on the people’s strong aspirations for a harmonious and prosperous Myanmar. In this series of policy notes, the World Bank Group seeks to promote dialogue on critical development challenges and on options for policies and reforms that can contribute to shared prosperity for the people of Myanmar. Myanmar has strong medium-term growth potential. Efforts to open up and liberalize the economy over the past 4 years have revealed pent up demand, brought in new investments, and increased productivity from a very low base. Between 2011 and 2014 Myanmar’s economy grew at an average real rate of 7 percent per year, which is among the fastest in East Asia, and comparable to other high performing countries in their initial phase of liberalization. In the coming years, further removal of economic controls could help Myanmar to maintain a strong pace of growth. Myanmar has a real opportunity in ensuring that growth is also inclusive. This not only means sustaining a strong pace of growth, but doing so through a diversified economy that can absorb the labor force into higher productivity sectors. The agriculture sector, which suffers from low productivity, contributing on average only 10-15 percent to annual real GDP growth over the past 4 years, employs over half of the country’s labor force. The manufacturing and construction sectors on the other hand, which have the highest value added per unit of labor, employ only 10-15 percent of the labor force. Policies that can enable a structural shift to more productive and labor intensive activities could make a big dent on poverty and inequality in Myanmar. These would include expanding access to essential public services. This could enable a bigger share of the population to benefit from the agglomeration of economic activities around Myanmar’s growth poles, namely Yangon and Mandalay, which account for roughly 35 percent of national GDP. The sound governance and use of Myanmar’s natural resource wealth are also critical to inclusive growth. Around 10 percent of Myanmar’s official GDP is derived from natural resources, though some estimate unofficial trade in natural resources at more than 20 percent of official GDP. This not only concentrates wealth from non-renewable national assets in the hands of a few, but also finances conflicts, which have created vicious cycles of poverty that are geographically and ethnically concentrated. Policy reforms since 2011 have started to promote inclusion so that a growing share of Myanmar’s people can take advantage of new opportunities and benefit from economic growth. Higher tax collections from non-agriculture sectors and rising natural resource rents have enabled Myanmar to reprioritize public spending towards critical economic and social service needs. Foreign exchange, trade and investment liberalization have opened up economic opportunities and the space for investment beyond a small group of highly protected sectors. Increased public sector transparency and decentralization have started to gradually bring the state closer to the people. Given this context, how can Myanmar advance reforms to close the disparities across its geography, ethnic communities, and income groups; and to promote productivity and competitiveness? This is the question that this series of policy notes, “All aboard! Policies for shared prosperity in Myanmar,” aims to generate debate and ideas. The theme “All aboard” is meant to reflect inclusivity and imminent departure on a positive journey. The policy notes focus on six interconnected areas that are likely to be high priorities for shared prosperity (figure 1). The first is on closing the gap in access to social services for improving Myanmar’s human development outcomes. This could help to strengthen the productivity and employability of Myanmar’s current and future labor force, which is the critical input to inclusive growth and a precondition to success in all the other areas. The second policy note is on growing together by reducing poverty in rural areas. Policies to boost agriculture productivity and accelerate the delivery of essential services in rural areas, where they lag the most, could help to supply the much needed labor and food for the rapidly expanding industrial, manufacturing and service sectors. Investment in higher productivity sectors is also likely to require breaking business as usual to foster competitiveness and a dynamic environment for private sector growth across the country, which are discussed in the third policy note. These include policies that are targeted at reducing the costs of doing business and engaging in international trade. The relative impact of these could be enormous in terms of incentivizing private sector investments, expanding access to economic opportunities for rural and urban populations, and diversifying the sources of growth. Enabling these to drive major structural transformations in the economy is likely to require policy reforms in two important areas. The fourth policy note therefore looks at options to expand Myanmar’s ability for financing the future through an open, modern, and inclusive financial system. This is important not only for channeling savings to large private investments, but also to finance public sector operations and service delivery, facilitate the expansion of international trade, and enable the transfer of increased remittances to rural areas. The fifth policy note is on energizing Myanmar by enhancing access to sustainable energy for all. Myanmar’s growing economy will need more energy than is currently supplied – not only for productive sectors, but also for the delivery of public services across the country."
Author/creator: Habib Rab + team
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: World Bank
Format/size: html, pdf (English, 1.4MB-reduced version; 1.5MB-original...Burmese, 1.6MB-reduced version; 2.1MB-original)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/World_Bank-2016-02-23-All_aboard-en.pdf
Date of entry/update: 01 March 2016

Title: Growing Together: Reducing rural poverty in Myanmar (English, Burmese မန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 16 February 2016
Description/subject: "Policies that enable rural communities to participate in expanding economic opportunities can be central to inclusive growth in Myanmar. Rural communities are home to the majority of Myanmar’s population, the majority of its many ethnic groups, and 70 percent of its poor. Development in rural areas is constrained by low returns to agriculture, and significantly lower levels of public service delivery and human development outcomes relative to urban areas. Reforms to enhance agriculture productivity are necessary though not sufficient for improving the welfare and livelihoods of rural communities. These have to be complemented with increased access to social and economic services that can raise human and physical capacity to create the conditions necessary for the growth of a dynamic rural non-farm sector. These reforms could help to not only reduce the drag on rural growth and poverty reduction, but also contribute to structural economic transformation so that the welfare of all people in Myanmar can grow together..."
Author/creator: Myint, Nikolas;
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: World Bank
Format/size: pdf (1.4MB-English; 1.56MB-Burmese)
Alternate URLs: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2016/02/16/090224b084187759/...
Date of entry/update: 13 March 2016

Title: Myanmar: Ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity in a time of transition (English, Burmese ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Date of publication: 18 February 2015
Description/subject: "A New World Bank Group report urges universal access to basic services and expanded private sector-led growth to create more jobs...Raising farm productivity and incomes, more and better basic services for all, and a better business climate are critical to ending poverty in Myanmar, according to a new World Bank report, Ending Poverty and Boosting Shared Prosperity in a Time of Transition. The report, which is the World Bank Group’s first Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD), traces Myanmar’s untapped growth potential and widespread poverty to landlessness, low labor and agricultural productivity, lack of access to markets, on-going conflict and communal violence, and a legacy of weak institutions and policies. Coming off decades of military rule and international isolation, Myanmar has a GDP per capita of $1,105 and poverty is high. Most poor people – around 76 percent of all poor – live in rural areas. Among ASEAN countries, Myanmar has the lowest life expectancy at birth (65 years) and the second-highest rate of infant (40 per 1000 live births) and under 5 child deaths (51 per 1000 live births)..."
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: World Bank
Format/size: pdf (1.8MB-English; 6.8MB-Burmese)
Alternate URLs: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2016/02/03/090224b08413e758/...
Date of entry/update: 13 March 2016