Act fast in implementing COVID-19 response plans to support economic recovery

Myanmar’s economy continues to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic, with growth estimated to have slowed sharply to 1.7 percent in FY19/20, down from 6.8 per cent the previous year, according to the World Bank’s Myanmar Economic Monitor, released yesterday.
The pandemic and associated containment measures have weakened consumption and investment, and disrupted businesses operations and the supply of labor and inputs.
As part of measures that slow the spread of the virus, and mitigate increases in poverty, the Union Government set up COVID-19 funds of K200 billion, and approved over K101 billion to 3,394 enterprises as first disbursement and over K64 billion to 2,939 enterprises as second disbursement and provided relief aid and food to the country’s vulnerable people.
For the longer term, public investments in infrastructure and digital technologies can increase domestic demand and employment, while boosting the productive capacity of the economy.
To achieve this, we must carry out an assessment on the effective impact of the loan disbursed, government’s support to improve the country’s economy in line with “Enchanting Myanmar Health and Safety Protocol” and issues presented by the ministries and other organizations to Working Committee.
The World Bank’s report stated that as a result of COVID-19, the poverty rate could increase from 22.4 per cent in FY2018/19 to 27 per cent in FY20/21 and return to pre-crisis level in FY21/22 at the earliest.
Due to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, economic growth is projected to remain subdued at 2 per cent in FY20/21, said the report of the World Bank.
But provided mobility restrictions are gradually relaxed and cases of local transmission of the virus slow, the economy is projected to slowly recover from March 2021 onwards. The medium-term outlook is positive – supported by public investment, a resurgence in manufacturing, and productivity gains associated with the adoption of digital technology – with growth estimated to recover to 7 per cent on average.
However, risks remain high given continued uncertainty about the future evolution of the pandemic, both locally and globally. Availability of vaccines for everyone will take time. For more months to come, we must continue to implement the basic public health measures such as washing our hands, wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance and avoiding crowds. New waves of the pandemic can happen before we all are vaccinated and it can result in more severe restrictions and can delay our economic recovery. Now is the time to scale up our COVID-19 response plans to support the recovery of our economy as soon as possible.

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