THE WORLD BANK is supporting 43 active projects in Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, with commitments of over 2.7 billion US dollars (Bt92bn) as of June, according to a recent report.
Of the total figure, 18 projects are in Laos with a total commitment of $437 million, while 12 projects worth $243m are in Cambodia. Myanmar represents more than half of the total commitment in the three countries, with 13 projects worth more than $2bn.
However, details of the World Bank’s contribution to projects in Laos, along with the type of projects that have been implemented, have not been revealed.
In addition to project support, the bank provides analytical and advisory work that shares knowledge and solutions to sustain high economic growth, invest in people through access to health and nutrition services, education, better roads and energy, and to build resilience to climate change.
The World Bank has appointed Ellen Goldstein as its director for Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. In this position, she is responsible for strengthening the partnership with client countries while deepening the dialogue on economic reforms aimed at ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity.
For the first time, the World Bank is placing a director in Yangon, reflecting the deepening of its partnership with Myanmar, as the country continues its historic transition toward a more market-oriented economy and toward greater regional and global integration, according to the bank’s report.
Ms Goldstein has recently served as director for the Western Balkans in the Europe and Central Asia Region, based in Vienna. Prior to her posting in Europe, she served as director for Bangladesh and Nepal, based in Dhaka.
“I am honoured to have been appointed to represent the World Bank in Myanmar, Cambodia and the Lao PDR, and look forward to better understanding their unique histories and development paths,” said Ms Goldstein.
“Most recently, these three countries have seen the fastest economic growth in East Asia. Through our partnership strategy in each country, the World Bank will continue to support inclusive growth that benefits the poor.”
Laos, a lower-middle income economy with a growth national income (GNI) per capita of $1,740 in 2015, is one of the fastest growing economies in the East Asia and Pacific region, and the 13th fastest growing economy globally, according to the World Bank.
GDP growth averaged 8 per cent over the past decade. Use of the country’s natural resources – mostly water, minerals and forests – contributed one third to growth.
The World Bank projected the Lao economy to expand at about seven per cent in 2017-19, supported by a healthy pipeline of power projects and growing opportunities for the non-resource sector resulting from closer Asean integration. In addition, some recovery in commodity prices will support mining and agriculture output, while improved connectivity will facilitate tourism growth.