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Myanmar: Selected Issues

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Published Date:
March 2018
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Poverty Dynamics and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS)1

Myanmar has achieved impressive poverty reduction over the last decade. However, disparities across urban-rural areas have widened contributing to higher levels of inequality, although the level of inequality remains moderate compared to regional peers. Causes of poverty are multifaceted including a weaker productive and financial assets base, and inadequate access to social services. Going forward, implementation of a second wave of reforms focused on financial reforms and inclusion as well as raising public spending on infrastructure, education and health through enhanced revenue mobilization and external financing would help to achieve the SDGs.

A. Poverty Dynamics

1. Myanmar has made impressive progress in its poverty alleviation over the last decade. Poverty declined by 33 percent between 2004/05 and 2015, from 48.1 percent to 32.1 percent, based on the national poverty line benchmarked to 2015 living conditions (Ministry of Planning and Finance, (MOPF) and the World Bank, 2017).2 This impressive poverty reduction was strongest in the post-2011 liberalization phase, highlighting the inclusive growth impact of the first wave of reforms in Myanmar (see IMF 2014 and World Bank 2015). The poverty reduction was mirrored in a 31 percent or 2.8 percent annual rise in household expenditures, using the new welfare aggregate. Other indicators of living standards, such as the ownership of motorcycles and televisions, have also risen over time.

Source: World Bank staff estimates. Poverty estimates were produced in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Finance.

2. The internationally comparable extreme poverty rate is comparable to that of regional peers. Using an internationally comparable poverty line, an estimated 6.5 percent of people in Myanmar were poor in 2015. Myanmar’s extreme poverty rate is relatively low given its GDP per capita. From a regional perspective, the poverty rates are higher than those seen in Vietnam but lower that those seen in Indonesia and the Philippines at the same point in time.

Regional Chart

Sources: Ministry of Planning and Finance (MoPF); and World Bank.

B. Regional Disparities

3. Urban areas have seen faster growth in household welfare, and a sharper decline in poverty in percentage point terms. Both rural and urban poverty have declined, with urban poverty falling from 24.8 percent in 2009/10 to 14.5 percent in 2015, and rural poverty falling from 48.5 percent to 38.8 percent over the same period. The more rapid decline in urban, relative to rural, poverty is mirrored in sectoral growth figures, which show a more rapid rate of growth in manufacturing and services than in the agricultural sector over the same period. Rising welfare in urban areas has been accompanied by an expansion in asset ownership.

4. Poverty is overwhelmingly rural. The headcount rate is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, at 38.8 percent compared to 14.5 percent. With 87 percent of the poor living in farms and villages, the text figures below visualize the headcount rate of poverty in urban and rural Myanmar, and across the agro-ecological zones, and show the share of poor in these areas. The majority of the poor and the majority of people in Myanmar are found in rural areas.

Poverty Headcount by Urban/Rural Status and Agro-zone

Sources: Ministry of Planning and Finance (MoPF); and World Bank.

Share of Poor and Food Poor in Urban/Rural Areas and by Agro-zone

5. There is extensive variation in the rate of poverty across agro-ecological zones. The Myanmar Poverty and Living Conditions survey cannot produce estimates of poverty at the state or region level, but instead can be used to assess poverty at the agro-zone level.3 The headcount rate of poverty is highest in the Coastal and Hills and Mountains area, at 43.9 percent and 40 percent respectively. These areas have the highest poverty intensity and severity indexes, consistent with the substantial food poverty also recorded in these areas. The headcount rate of poverty is lower in the Delta, at 26.2 percent, and the same as the national average in the Dry Zone, at 32.1 percent. Though the Delta and Dry Zone have lower poverty rates, 65 percent of the poor in Myanmar live in these areas due to the high population density of these areas.

6. Poverty in the Coastal and Hills and Mountains areas is deeper and more severe than in the other agro-ecological zones. This can be seen through the higher shares of food poor living in these areas, as well as through measures that capture the severity of poverty, such as the poverty gap.4 The deprivations seen in the Coastal and Hills and Mountains areas are also seen in a number of other indicators.

7. Most measures of inequality have risen since economic liberalization, albeit from a relatively low base. Households at the top 90th percentile have seen faster consumption growth than those at the bottom 10th and the median household. The share of total expenditures going to the bottom 20 percent and to the bottom 40 percent has declined since 2009/10. The gini coefficient of inequality is estimated to be 0.35 in 2015. The rise in inequality is noteworthy but unsurprising, as individuals with better education and more capital benefited more from the early liberalizations and reforms. While living standards in rural areas have seen substantial improvements, the changes have been more limited than those seen in Myanmar’s cities and towns.

8. Income differences across State/Regions in Myanmar are substantial and coincide with rural-urban divide on poverty. Per capita GDP ranges from 1.7 million Kyat per capita in Yangon, by far the richest Region, to 400,000 Kyat in Chin (see the text figure right). This is reflective of some important features of the economy including: the concentration of natural resources (with mining in Tanintharyi and Magwe), the lower GDP per capita of states affected by conflicts and the relative high income of all the central dry area (Magwe, Sagaing, Mandalay, Bago). The high poverty regions seem to be associated with rural and conflict-affected dimension.

Income Differences Across State/Regions

Sources: Ministry of Planning and Finance (MoPF); and Myanmar Census.

C. Vulnerabilities and Causes of Poverty

9. Despite improvements in living conditions, there are many individuals whose consumption patterns place them just above the poverty line. Individuals are near-poor or vulnerable to poverty if there is a nonnegligible chance that they could fall into poverty. This is captured by looking at the population that lies within 20 percent of the poverty line. Although the fraction of poor and near-poor has declined over time, from 61.9 percent in 2004/05 to 55.6 percent in 2009/10 using the new poverty measure, 46 percent of the population continued to live under the near-poor line in 2015. Thus, the bottom 40 percent of Myanmar’s population continues to be either poor or very vulnerable to falling into poverty. Moreover, beyond facing a substantial risk of absolute poverty, this group has limited access to basic services such as electricity, health care, and improved water and sanitation.

10. Vulnerability to exogenous shocks and low financial inclusion constraints poverty reduction. Households prone to shocks take actions that affect their ability to bounce back and escape poverty, including cutting back on their investments, selling core productive assets, and withdrawing children from school. Poorer households have more limited recourse to formal credit or relatives that can help them to weather large shocks, leading to households taking out high interest loans that they may struggle to pay back. A fifth of all households in Myanmar are estimated to be heavily indebted and nearly one in five households has taken out a loan to cover basic food needs.

11. Causes of the poverty are multifaceted. Firstly, poor households have a weaker productive and financial asset base. Secondly, poor households are less integrated into the formal economy and possess fewer formal claims to possessions and entitlements. Thirdly, poor households are less likely to own land, are more likely to rent land in and to cultivate smaller plots. Fourthly, poorer households are disproportionately concentrated in agriculture, either as causal laborers or as small holder farmers, and tend to be less diversified in their activities.

12. Educational outcomes have shown some signs of improvement in recent decades, but key challenges remain:

  • Dropout rates remain high in secondary education. Education completion has increased across generations. Among those who were 60 years of age and above in 2015, just under half (47 percent) reported not having completed any formal education. The share of individuals who have completed primary schooling increased from 45 percent among those aged 50 years and over (born in or before 1960) to 48 percent for those aged 35–39 years (born in 1975–1979). In addition, while attending lower-secondary school was previously the privilege of a few, it has become a possibility for nearly half of individuals in more recent generations. The fraction of individuals who enroll in and complete lower-secondary and upper-secondary has risen across generations. There, however, continues to be substantial dropout between primary and lower-secondary school and, even among those who start lower-secondary. Children typically start falling behind at lower-secondary school, and drop out towards the end of lower-secondary. Costs—both direct and indirect—are the main reasons given for discontinuing school.

  • There is still significant diversity at the regional level, despite the improvements in educational attainment among generations. According to Census figures, the percentage of the population aged 15 to 24 who had never attended any educational level varies substantially across states and regions. The gap in the non-attendance rates for those aged 15 to 24 years in 2014 is nearly 25 percentage points between the state with the highest prevalence of non- attendance (Shan State) and the region with the lowest (Yangon).

13. The health sector is also key to reap the full benefit of the expected demographic dividend in coming years, while wresting with the following key challenges:

  • High infant mortality. Out of every 100 children born in Myanmar, 6.2 die before their first birthday and 7.2 before their fifth. Children from poor households are more likely to live in nutritious food scarce environments and in households with unimproved water and sanitation infrastructure, with implications for their physical and mental growth potential. The effects of such childhood poverty and stunting can be devastating and long-lasting, limiting physical and cognitive development, with subsequent effects on labor market outcomes.

  • Low protection against health-related shocks with sizable redistributive and economic impact. Health treatments are costly and almost exclusively out-of-pocket, placing a large burden on households, particularly the poorest who have more difficulty affording appropriate treatment. Sixteen percent of households in the sample survey face catastrophic health care expenditures, accounting for more than 10 percent of total welfare. This has a large impact on labor force participation and productivity, as 4 percent of labor days are lost due to sickness.

D. Strategies to Achieve the SDGs

14. Achieving the SDGs will require sustaining the growth takeoff and making growth more inclusive, through a second wave of reforms and investments in human and physical capital. Myanmar’s initial economic liberalization led to an impressive growth take-off and poverty reduction. The pace of poverty reduction in the last decade was comparable to the successful economic liberalization episodes in the region. Cross country experience suggests the need to implement a second wave of reforms to sustain the growth momentum and poverty reduction in the next decade or two. The multi-faceted causes of the poverty in Myanmar highlighted above indicates the need for mutually reinforcing policies and investments that would help achieve the SDGs in poverty/inequality and social dimensions. In particular, a scaling up of investments in infrastructure and human capital would boost more inclusive growth and job creation including by addressing regional disparities.

15. The government is laying the foundations of a path focused on implementing policies to achieve the SDGs and monitoring progress. The new administration’s development agenda is people centered: the Twelve Point Economic Policies focus on inclusive and sustainable development, supporting the implementation of the SDGs. However, challenges remain in identifying spending needs and developing an overarching economic roadmap building on the numerous sectoral and regional plans. For Myanmar, increased private sector consultation and development of a structured and strategic medium-term development plan with a fiscal framework, would help to provide strategic direction and facilitate reform implementation. Good progress has been made in developing a monitoring framework for SDGs with the “Baseline Report: Measuring Myanmar’s Starting Point for the Sustainable Development Goals.”

16. A deeper focus on the extreme poor would leave Myanmar well placed to make a substantial dent in the SDG related to poverty but would need to address regional disparities to ensure no one is left behind. Sustainable Development Goal 1 is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” and has two specific poverty reduction targets. One target (SDG 1.1) talks of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030, based on a globally comparable notion of extreme poverty. The international poverty line was updated in 2015 to $1.90 a day in 2011 prices, and only 6.5 percent of people were below the extreme poverty rate in 2015. While Myanmar’s recent growth episodes has contributed to sustained consumption growth for average households and for those around the poverty line, for the bottom decile growth appears to have been more limited. Indeed, in rural areas, the evidence suggests no clear improvements over time for these populations. In order to reach SDG 1.1, policies need to be orientated towards a sustained rise in incomes of the lowest decile of the population. This requires a focus on poverty in the Coastal and Hills regions, including conflict zones, where most of the extreme poor live.

17. Halving the national poverty rate would require a second wave of catalytic reforms particularly narrowing the rural-urban divide. SDG target 1.2 aims to halve national poverty rates in all its dimensions between 2015 and 2030. This implies about a 16-percentage-point reduction of the 2015 national poverty rate from 32.1 percent to 16 percent by 2030. An even larger reduction in poverty would be required in rural areas given the higher poverty incidence. A number of fast growing Asian emerging markets (e.g., China, Indonesia and Vietnam, see the text chart) have achieved such rates of poverty reduction in the second decade of liberalization through a new wave of reforms. A dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model calibrated to Myanmar’s macroeconomic trends and distributional features of household data show that a combination of reforms could help achieve SDG 1.2.

Poverty Reduction Following Economic Reforms

(Change in percent of total population)

Sources: World Bank’s World Development Indicators; and IMF staff calculations.

18. Financial reforms and inclusion coupled with an infrastructure push particularly focused on the agriculture sector would have the strongest impact (IMF, 2017)5. Financial reforms particularly interest rate liberalization over the medium term outlined in chapter 2 would raise savings and investment through prudent credit expansion, leading to a faster industrial sector and a sharper decline in poverty in urban areas. If this process were to be accompanied by financial inclusion reforms, access to finance in rural areas and farm income would also rise (see text figure). Using revenue generated by financial reforms and broadening the tax base to increase investment in infrastructure can further boost growth, and reduce poverty and nationwide inequality. Investment in infrastructure that benefits all economic sectors has a larger positive impact on economic activity, but investing in rural infrastructure leads to a better distributional outcome for the country as a whole. The combination of a second wave of reforms in the financial sector and a revenue-based scaling up of infrastructure particularly in agriculture would allow a cumulative reduction in poverty to achieve SDG 1.2.6

Possible Impact: Poverty Rate

(Total change in percentage points)

Source: IMF staff estimates (Ruiz et al (2016)).

19. Undernourishment and malnutrition during childhood is a particularly concern for achieving SDG 2 in Myanmar (CSO 2017 and UNDP, 2017). Goal 2 seeks sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security. While undernourishment and malnutrition during childhood in South-East Asia is below the World level, the prevalence of undernourishment in Myanmar (14.2 percent) was above the global average over the period 2014 to 2016. According to the Myanmar 2015–16 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), the prevalence of stunting among children under 5 years is 29.2 percent, a huge cost felt in terms of cognitive abilities and human capital development of future youth.

20. Reducing maternal mortality, deaths of newborn and children under 5 years of age is the first target under Goal 3 and is of importance in Myanmar. The maternal mortality ratio, under-five mortality rate and the neonatal mortality rate in 2015 were higher in Myanmar compared to the regional average (CSO 2017). In 2015–16, just over 60% of births were attended by skilled birth attendance highlighting the challenge at hand in improving child and maternal health outcomes.

21. Myanmar’s population is largely literate but a lot needs to be done to ensure that all people have access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities (Goal 4). The Labor Force Survey (2015) indicates that almost 89.6 percent of the population was literate (men at 92.3 percent and women at 87.3 percent). However, only a quarter (22.4 percent) of youth between 15 and 24 years old participated in formal, non-formal education and training in 2015. When looking at adults, the participation falls to 0.5 percent. While enrollment and completion of secondary schooling have increased, the drop out ratio remains high at the secondary level with uneven quality and access across regions.

22. To achieve the SDGs in social sectors, Myanmar will also need to sharply increase public spending on education, health and social protection (see Box 1).

23. Pilot areas of Fund and SDGs. The Fund has been recently stepping up its efforts to monitor new SDGs-related macro-critical issues (e.g., gender equality, inclusive growth, and climate change) as pilot areas, and is closely working with development partners including WB, UNDP and UNICEF.

  • Gender equality. Goal 5 aims to empower women and girls to reach their full potential, which requires equal opportunities to those of men and boys, with eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against them. Gender gaps in education achievements at secondary and tertiary levels and entrance to public sector jobs are minimal for Myanmar’s level of income. In addition, the incidence of violence against women by husbands and proportion of teenage marriages is relatively low in Myanmar (1 young woman 15–19 out of 8 was married in 2015–16). However, the proportion of seats held by women in national parliament was much lower in Myanmar compared to regional and global averages in 2016. On average, daily earnings of men were 1,300 Kyats higher than the daily earnings of women (CSO and UNDP, 2017). While equality between men and women is itself an important development goal, raising female labor participation and land ownership would boost growth and inclusion.

  • Inclusive growth. Goal 8 focuses on sustained and inclusive economic growth, which is a prerequisite for sustainable development. As highlighted in the previous section, a second wave of reforms focused on financial reforms elaborated in Chapter 2 and financial inclusion (Box 2) would have the largest impact on supporting inclusive growth. Financial inclusion policies aimed at increasing general credit access for agriculture and SMEs would also help achieve the respective SDG. Policies to improve infrastructure can amplify the positive impact of financial reforms and inclusion Moreover, investing in rural infrastructure leads to a better distributional outcome and a larger reduction of the Gini coefficient (IMF 2017).

  • Climate change. Goal 13 aims to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters. On average, around 27 persons per 100,000 people were killed and missing due to natural disasters every year over the period 2006–2015. Natural disasters also generated a direct economic loss of 1.82 percent of GDP every year, on average over the same period. The policy response of governments to past natural disasters was more limited compared with other developing Asian countries (IMF 2017). To more effectively mitigate the impact of climate-related disasters, Myanmar needs to enhance preparedness and response ability through addressing weaknesses in ex-ante resilience and ex-post adaptive capacity.

Box 1.Estimating Spending Needs to Achieve the Education and Health SDGs

Budget allocations to social sectors have increased significantly from 2012/13 as a share of total spending (from 8.2 percent to 12.8 percent).1 However, achieving the SGDs by 2030 will require further expenditure rebalancing toward and additional financing to social sectors (education, health, and social protection). There is also a need for continued focus on spending efficiency. To estimate spending needs, we calculate spending increases to reach average levels of best performing countries along various outcome dimensions related to SDGs.

Education spending needs for 25 Emerging and Developing Asia (EDA) countries are calculated as the additional spending required to attain a near 100 percent enrolment in primary and secondary education.2 On average, it estimated that EDA countries would require an additional 1.5 percent of GDP in education spending. Myanmar is estimated to have much larger spending needs at 2.5 percent of GDP.

Education Spending Needs

(In percent of GDP)

Source: WHO data; and IMF staff calculations

Public health spending needs for EDA countries are calculated as the additional public expenditure needed to catch up with spending observed among best performers for a series of indicators that capture basic health outcomes and services coverage.3 Reference expenditure is calculated as average public spending among the best five performers for each indicator.4 Per this approach, EDA countries would require 0.9 percent of GDP in public health spending, while Myanmar would need additional 2.4 percent of GDP.

Public Health Spending Needs

(In percent of GDP)

Source: WHO data; and IMF staff calculations.

The authorities made progress towards establishing strategies for financing development outcomes.5 In addition to raising domestic revenues and increasing foreign direct investment, Myanmar should aim at mobilizing official concessional financing and accelerating project annual disbursement rates which stand on average at 6 percent.6

1 Source: IMF staff estimates2 These figures are based on the average per pupil spending among peer countries with near 100 percent enrolment with adjustments for country demographics.3 Coverage of antiretroviral therapy among people living with HIV, antenatal and delivery care coverage, neonatal mortality rate, infant mortality rate, and under-five mortality rate.4 Public spending needs are computed for each country as the difference (if positive) with respect to reference expenditure. An aggregate indicator is obtained considering as reference average spending among best performers across all five indicators.5 UNDP, Report on Financing Development Outcomes in Myanmar through the Establishment of an Integrated National Financing Framework, August 2017.6 Work Bank Group, Myanmar Public Expenditure Review 2017: Fiscal Space for Economic Growth.

Box 2.Financial Inclusion in Myanmar

Myanmar’s financial sector is still underdeveloped with financial inclusion also lagging its peers. Although both private credit and deposits in the banking system have grown gradually following a sharp decline in the 2003 banking crisis, they remain low compared with other frontier and developing Asia (FD Asia) countries and far below emerging Asia (EM Asia).1 Financial inclusion in Myanmar is also limited with account ownership at regulated financial institutions, savings and credit card ownership falling below its peers.

Banking Size—Myanmar vs. Peers

Financial Inclusion—Myanmar vs. Peers

Note: The income group classifications are those used by the World Bank. FD Asia data are available from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Nepal, and Vietnam. EM Asia data comprise China, India, Sri Lanka, Thaikand, Philippines, Malaysiia, Indonesia, Singapore and Korea. Source: The Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) database, Demirguc-Kunt and Klapper (2014).

Myanmar population is thinly served by financial services with uneven access and a high reliance on informal means owing to several constraints. Finscope (2013) indicates that 30 percent of adults use regulated financial services but only 6 percent of the adults use more than one service. There is also uneven access to financial services with the banks’ branch network disproportionately benefitting urban areas such as Yangon. Also, farmers though still underserved, have better access to formal financial services (at 43 percent) compared to MSMEs (at 30 percent) and general households (see Figure 3 below). The limited ability to borrow from formal financial institutions is in part due to: i) a narrow collateral base (mainly land and buildings); ii) an inadequate credit guarantee system; iii) the limited availability of financial products (e.g., fractional term loans, leasing and factoring finance); and iv) underdeveloped risk management skills (e.g., premature credit-scoring system).

The Myanmar government has made financial inclusion an integral part of its inclusive growth strategy and has undertaken several initiatives to support it including the 2011 microfinance business law and the Financial Inclusion Road Map (FIRM). The 2011 law set the stage for the development of the microfinance sector, expected to fill credit gaps particularly in the agriculture and small and micro enterprises. Subsequently, several regulations pertaining to MFIs were passed in 2016 and 2017. Also, the government launched the Financial Inclusion Road Map (FIRM) in 2015 aiming to bring the population into the formal financial market with access to modern financial products and services. The roadmap sets out several targets on the access to financial services by 2020 (Table).

Financial Inclusion by Segments in Myanmar

Source: Authors’ estimations based on the 2013 FinScope Dababase.

Targets for Priority Markets
Size (mil)Access in 2014Target in 2020
Agriculture (farmers)12.143%51%
MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise)7.230%40%
Low income household7.515%28%
Other13.027%36%
Total39.830%40%
Source: Myanmar authorities (2015).
Source: Myanmar authorities (2015).

Recognizing the impediments to financial inclusion, Myanmar has prioritized mobile banking to facilitate financial inclusion. CBM formulated a basic regulatory framework in 2013 (bank-based model) to allow technology service providers, financial service providers, and mobile network operators to partner with banks in the provision of financial services. A 2016 Regulation on Mobile Financial Services (non-bank-based model) is to provide payments and financial services using mobile technology infrastructure, including kyat-denominated cash-in and cash-out transactions, money transfers and domestic payments. The regulation permits mobile network operators (MNOs) to offer those services through their own platforms, with ensuring interoperability, agents network (without exclusivity), KYC and customer due diligence (CDD), and customer protection.

Smartphone Adoption by 2020

(In percentage of connections)

Source: GMSA Intelligence (2016).

Myanmar’s rapidly expanding usage of mobile phones—especially for smart-phones—holds the potential to allow the country to “leapfrog” in financial inclusion and financial development. With dramatic declines in the cost of telecommunication and rapid smartphone penetration, including in rural areas, Myanmar hopes that it will be able to bypass—at least to a significant degree—traditional modes of financial services delivery and accelerate financial inclusion. However, it is unclear how far a country can “leapfrog” without the support of physical infrastructure, such as networks of bank branches, road and electricity distribution, as well as a solid banking system.

1 Frontier and developing Asia (FD Asia includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao P.D.R., Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam (IMF, 2015). Emerging Asia (EM Asia) includes other ASEAN countries (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand), China, Hong Kong, Korea, India, and Sri Lanka.
References

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    International Monetary Fund (IMF)2015Frontier and Developing Asia: The Next Generation of Emerging Markets.

    International Monetary Fund (IMF)2017aMacroeconomic and Distributional Implications of Financial Reforms in Myanmarin Myanmar Selected Issues Paper IMF Country Report No. 17/31 (Washington).

    International Monetary Fund (IMF)2017bMacro-fiscal risks: the challenge of climate related disastersin Myanmar Selected Issues Paper IMF Country Report No. 17/31 (Washington).

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    Ministry of Planning and Finance (MoPF) and World Bank2017An Analysis of Poverty in Myanmar: Part 02 Poverty Profile.

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Prepared by Reena Badiani-Magnusson, Senior Economist, World Bank, Yasuhisa Ojima, IMF Resident Representative in Myanmar, with contributions from Maximilien Queyranne (IMF), Ryan Wu (IMF), UNICEF and UNDP. The section on poverty dynamics relies heavily on “An Analysis of Poverty in Myanmar: Part 02 Poverty Profile” by the Ministry of Planning and Finance and World Bank.

Previous estimates of national poverty based on the Integrated Household Living Conditions Assessment (2017) show a similar trend reduction in poverty.

The Hills and Mountainous zone includes: Kayah, Kayin, Shan, Kachin and Chin. The Delta zone includes: Bago, Mon, Ayeyarwady. The Dry zone includes: Sagaing, Magwe, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. The Coastal zone includes Rakhine and Taninthayi.

Note that the standard error of poverty estimates in Coastal areas is considerable, likely reflecting the substantial diversity of its regions. Although poverty in Coastal areas is estimated to be higher than in the Hills and Mountains, due to high standard errors the difference between the two zones is not statistically significant.

Macroeconomic and Distributional Implications of Financial Reforms in Myanmar, in Myanmar Selected Issues Paper, IMF Country Report 17/31.

The Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) of the World Bank was published in 2014 and highlighted Myanmar’s priorities of:(1) raising incomes in rural communities; (2) increasing universal access to basic services such as health care, education, water and sanitation, and electricity; (3) and improving investment climate for private sector led growth and good jobs.

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