Aug 17, 2011

IMF to advise Myanmar on FOREX reform

The International Monetary Fund will assist the government to reform the country’s exchange rate system, a spokesperson confirmed last week.

“We have received a request from the authorities to help them prepare to modernise their exchange rate system and lift restrictions on the making of payments and transfers for current international transactions,” Mr Gita Bhatt, an IMF spokesperson told The Myanmar Times by email last week.

“A technical team from the IMF will be visiting Myanmar in the second half of October to begin this process.”

He declined to give any further details about the visit.

Last week, The Myanmar Times published an report in which experts called for a floating exchange rate. An economist in the president’s economic advisory team said they had asked the IMF for technical assistance.

The government has consulted widely with domestic experts and business groups on possible changes to the country’s multiple foreign exchange system, which is also called the “parallel system” by some economists.

Late last month, the Minister of Finance and Revenue, U Hla Tun, said in a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw that the authorities were considering adjusting the official exchange rate to a more stable and reasonable rate that matched the prevailing market rate.

Although the official exchange rate has been fixed at about K6 to the US dollar for almost four decades, the market exchange rate has floated between K740 and K1400 over the past five years. However, the prevailing trend has seen the US dollar steadily decline in value. It was last week trading at about K750, almost half its high of about K1450 in 2006.

Myanmar became a member of the World Bank and the IMF in 1952 but it has not received loans from the World Bank since July 1987, with the country falling into “non-accrual status” with the bank. The IMF performs its mandated article IV consultation but there is no current IMF assistance to Myanmar.

Source: Myanmar Times

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