Feb 1, 2012

Myanmar's GDP to grow to 5.5% in 2011-12: IMF

Myanmar's real gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to increase to 5.5 percent in the present fiscal year 2011-12 and to 6 percent in 2012-13, according to a latest estimation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The growth is possible for the fact that it is driven by commodity exports and higher investment supported by robust credit growth and improved business confidence, said a statement released after an IMF mission, led by Meral Karasulu, concluded its over- two-week-long 2011 Article-4 consultation trip in Myanmar.

Inflation, projected at 4.2 percent for 2011-12, is expected to pick up to 5.8 percent in 2012-13 as the recent decline in food prices phases out, it said, adding that the parallel market exchange rate of the Kyat has appreciated by about 32 percent in nominal effective terms since the end of 2009-10.

The IMF attributed the appreciation pressure primarily to large foreign inflow into the economy, which cannot find an outlet due to exchange restrictions on current international payments and transfers.

The IMF stressed the priority to reforming the country's complex exchange rate system to eliminate constraints on economic growth, pointing out that the unification of the exchange rate would require moving away from the "export first" policy.

The IMF proposed immediate removal of certain exchange restrictions in light of the appreciation pressure by allowing the use of all foreign currency bank account balance for import, easing import licensing requirements and access to the newly- established foreign exchange retail counters.

A prudent fiscal policy is essential to maintain marcro- economic stability, especially during the exchange rate unification process, the IMF further stressed.

Myanmar has been seeking coordination with IMF to adjust its complex exchange rate and a representative team from the IMF Article VIII made a two-week-long first visit to Myanmar in October last year.

At the request of the Central Bank of Myanmar, the IMF team from the Monetary an Capital Markets, Legal, and Asia and Pacific Department paid the visit to discuss its plan to unify the exchange rate regime and lift restrictions on current international payment and transfer with the intention of accepting Myanmar's obligation under Article VIII of the IMF agreement.

The team met with government officials, banks, and public and private sector representatives to conduct an initial diagnostic assessment of the legal framework and actual market practices governing the exchange rate system of Myanmar, particularly the existing exchange restriction and multiple currency practices.

Myanmar became a member of IMF and World Bank in 1952 but they suspended providing financial aid to Myanmar since 1987.

Myanmar's foreign exchange rate against U.S. dollar was traditionally designated as around 6 Kyats per U.S. dollar since 1975, while the market exchange rate fluctuated between 780 and 1, 000 Kyats per dollar for the past several years.

In face of the great gap between the official and market exchange rate, experts view that if suitable rate is officially readjusted, it will facilitate the work flow of economic entrepreneurs.

Source: ShanghaiDaily.com

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