3 Nov 2012

World Bank approves funds for Myanmar

6:15 am on 3 November 2012

The World Bank has approved an $US80 million grant and pledged lending for Myanmar, the second poorest country in Asia, for the first time in 25 years.

The money will go to rural communities to build roads, bridges, schools and health clinics, the World Bank said.

It comes after the current government began implementing economic, political and other reforms, the BBC reports.

In October this year the United States lifted sanctions and restrictions on financial institutions lending to Myanmar.

"I am heartened by the reforms that have been taking place in Myanmar and encourage the government to continue to push forward with their efforts," World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said.

Another $US165 million will be made available once the country has cleared its overdue debt to the bank, Pamela Cox the World Bank's vice-president for East Asia and the Pacific.

Discussion will continue on how to allocate those funds.

Reforms have been taking place in Myanmar since elections in November 2010 saw military rule replaced with a military-backed nominally civilian government led by President Thein Sein.

Under his administration, many political prisoners have been freed and some censorship lifted.

The party of freed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has rejoined the political process - after boycotting the 2010 polls - and now has a small presence in parliament.