Thursday, October 11, 2012

Plan would eliminate Burma’s international debt next year

Thursday, 11 October 2012 15:14 Mizzima News

Japan plans to resume its full loan program to Burma “at the earliest possible timing next year,” Japanese Finance Minister Koriki Jojima said in his opening remarks in Japan at a meeting of international officials on Burma’s overdue debt.

Japanese Finance Minister Koriki Jojima, top center, delivers an opening speech while Burma's Minister of Finance and Revenue Win Shein, bottom right, listens at the “Meeting on Myanmar” in Tokyo on Thursday, October 11, 2012. Photo: AFP

Jojima offered no hints on the size of potential loans, but said Japan wanted to help Burma in areas such as electricity and road rehabilitation, rural development and improvement of port facilities.

The meeting is one step closer to helping Burma pay off its international arrears, opening the door to renewed loans by international lending agencies, which have said they are preparing plans to help the former military regime which is rapidly putting in place democrati reforms.

"It is high time the international community join efforts to underpin reform by Myanmar, and reintegrate Myanmar as one of its members,” Jojima said, according to news agencies.

Economic sanctions by the US and others since the late 1990s have hindered Burma’s growth. It still lacks some of the most basic infrastructure needed to rival other manufacturing nations in Southeast Asia.

Japan will aid the country through a bridge loan and a write-off,  Jojima said.

Burma’s arrears with Japan amount to about ¥500 billion (US$ 6.4 billion), the biggest chunk of the overdue debt Burma owes to the rest of the world, according to estimates by Japan's finance ministry.

Jojima said Japan intends to offer a $900 million bridge loan through a government-linked bank to settle Burma’s arrears with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The step, combined with Japan's planned debt-relief for Burma, would eliminate most of the Southeast Asian nation's overdue debt and empower international and regional lenders to resume loans to the country.

He said Burma’s would be able to clear its arrears sometime in January 2013.

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