World Bank approved more USD $ 350 million loans for electricity, health in Myanmar1 Jun 2020
The World Bank on May 29 approved US$350 million in International Development Association (IDA) credit to increase power generation in Myanmar and help the country meet a national goal of providing each citizen with access to electricity by 2030.
It also approved $110 million in additional financing for the Essential Health Services Access Project (EHSAP), implemented nationwide since 2015.
Myanmar must double its power production capacity in the next 5-7 years to meet that goal. Only half the households in Myanmar are currently connected to the national grid, which is the lowest population with access to electricity in Southeast Asia, said Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao PDR.
The IDA funds will go towards upgrading the Ywama gas-fired power plant and transmission infrastructure as this will improve the availability and reliability of electricity services to consumers in the Yangon region. This will free up more electricity for the rest of the country.
The investments are also to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity produced and improve the country’s power network against climate change and disasters, the World Bank said.
This is the second IDA loan targeted at power generation. An earlier loan of $400 million has already been disbursed to the Myanmar government for implementing the first phase of its 2014 National Electrification Plan (NEP). Under the NEP, 55pc of the population is to have access to electricity by 2021, over 75pc by 2026 and 100pc in 2030.
So far, over 5,000 villages have been connected to the national grid and over 7,200 to solar and small power stations, resulting in a total of 2 million people now having access to electricity, according to the World Bank.
The current World Bank loan of $350 million will be channeled towards the second phase of the NEP and negotiations for another $1.5 billion loan will take place before then, an official from the Ministry of Electricity and Energy told The Myanmar Times.
Meanwhile, the World Bank also approved $110 million in additional financing for the EHSAP, which focuses on building skills of frontline health workers.
The additional financing will support primary healthcare infrastructure in some of the most socio-economically disadvantaged townships as well as scale up activities to strengthen the health system, including pandemic preparedness and response.
In the fight against COVID-19, funds under EHSAP are also being mobilised to assist capacity building and operational costs to intensify surveillance and testing activities in all states and regions.
On May 29, Parliament also approved a $200 million IDA loan for the Myanmar National Food and Agriculture System Project.
“The project will help farmers and breeders recover from the collapse in agriculture and livestock production. Jobs will be created during the upgrading of irrigation systems and maintaining embankments. We also have a plan to establish disease prevention and control zones for cattle at the different border areas,” U Hla Kyaw, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said in Parliament.
Last month, the World Bank also provided a $50 million loan for the Myanmar COVID-19 Emergency Response Project, which includes raising hospital preparedness and surge capacity in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, protect health workers, and treat patients. - Translated