H.E. U Khin Maung Thein
Minister, Ministry of Finance and Revenue

at the
International Conference on Financing for Development

Monterrey, Mexico
18th-21st. March, 2002

Mr. President, 
Distinguished Delegates, 
Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to have this opportunity to address at the first ever International Conference on Financing for Development. I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Government and the people of Mexico for the warm hospitality extended to the delegations and the excellent arrangements made for this occasion in this beautiful city. I would also like to thank the Organizing Committee for taking efforts to materialize this conference.

Mr. President,

Although there have been recent indications that the global economy may be on the road to recovery after the events of September 11, it is evident that the situation remains delicate, particularly for the developing countries. This is also true in world finance. Therefore, the holding of the present Conference is both timely and appropriate.

As a developing country, Myanmar could not entirely escape the impact of recent international economic and financial turmoil. However, we have undertaken a number of systematic measures to mitigate the negative influences.

I would now like to briefly touch on the economic performance of Myanmar. In recent years, Myanmar has been able to achieve progress and advancement in every sector and every region of the country. In order to attain our main objective of achieving a peaceful and developed nation,
measures have being taken for economic development by formulating and implementing short-term plans.

The first four-year short-term plan spanned from 1992/93 to 1995/96 and the second five-year short-term plan was from 1996/97 to 2000/2001. During those periods we have been successful in achieving substantial economic growth due to the ability to mobilize relatively high levels of investments for the Agriculture Sector, good weather conditions and thus we are able to increase the volume of exports of agricultural produce. A third five year short-term plan, which runs from 2001-2002 to 2005-2006 is in the course of implementation.

In the meantime, all necessary measures are being taken to improve the economy including permitting wider participation of the private sector in the productive sectors.

As Myanmar is an agro-based country, priority is being given for the improvement of the agricultural sector and at the same time the industrial sector is also being developed by establishing industrial zones in the States, Divisions and in major cities. Strong private participation has been encouraged in these (2) main sectors by giving incentives such as reductions and exemptions on taxes, easy access to low cost borrowing from the banks, and also providing management and technical assistant by the Government.

Also I would like to mention that to keep abreast with the Information Technologies in the region, Information and Communication Technology Park have been established and the private sector is participating actively in this area.

In Myanmar, even though investment and savings ratio to GDP is still low when compared to some countries in the region, there has been noticeable increase in investment and savings during the years 1989 to 2000/2001. In order to finance the development of our country we have been laying down sound macroeconomic policies to mobilize savings, attract foreign investment and also to utilize them effectively for the productive sectors. Myanmar will be striving harder for improvement in investment and savings so as to be able to catch up with its neighbouring countries.

May I take the opportunity to mention that although Myanmar has always met its obligations, international organizations have suspended their
assistance to Myanmar over the past decade. Myanmar has not received any external financial assistance since 1988 and therefore the success that we have achieved up to the present has been gained with our own resources through our own efforts. In order to meet the required financial needs, we have allowed the private sector to have wider participation in the economy and, at the same time, we have been encouraging private financial institutions to extend loans and advances at concessional rates to the productive sectors to stimulate the momentum of growth. We are determined to develop our country on a much larger scale and will take all necessary measures to achieve our goals.

It is noted that with only political consideration some developed countries have imposed various sanctions on developing countries which have limited the much needed foreign private financial flows and investment to those countries. In order to have sustained economic growth in the developing countries as well as countries in transition, we are of the opinion that those sanctions should be lifted. Sanctions block productivity and therefore they do not benefit either the imposing countries or the imposed countries and they also have negative impacts on the countries that have economic relations with the imposed countries.

Myanmar is cooperating closely with other ASEAN member countries to facilitate smooth flow of trade and services. Agreements on avoidance of double taxation have been signed with several countries in order to benefit bilateral trade and investment. However developing countries are facing the problem of various barriers and restrictions from some developed countries. I would like to urge the developed countries to open up their markets further for products from developing countries.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) constitutes a crucial important source of financing for the development of the economy as well as for alleviating poverty. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to encourage developed countries, which have pledged to contribute but which have not done so, to fulfil their obligations.

In order to maintain debt sustainability, efforts should be continued to reduce the debt burden of the poor developing countries. We would also like to call for relief and cancellation of bilateral debts of developing countries so that their external debts can be contained at sustainable levels. Accelerating debt relief complemented by increased ODA would assist the developing countries in their quest for achieving sustained economic growth.

External private flows would also be of assistance in our efforts of building a peaceful developed country. However, as capital flows carry risk, they need to be monitored carefully so as not to create difficulties for monetary policy management.

In this rapidly globalized world where there are opportunities as well as challenges, it seems that only the developed countries are enjoying the benefits of globalization at the expense of developing countries. Therefore, Myanmar which is also one of the developing countries intends to strive further so as to reap benefits and opportunities that globalization offers for the development of its economy.

We are making efforts not only for the modernization and development of the future nation but also making sure that the basic needs of the people are met so that the new generation would be free from any hardship and troubles.

I would like to add here that if there are no disturbances and obstacles, the pace of development of the nation will be quicker and so will the work to build a democratic nation. More disturbances and blockages will only mean that it will take longer to reach our objective of a strong and peaceful nation.

As financing for development would be meaningful and equally beneficial to all the countries only if and when the requirements of the developing countries are met, I would like to urge the developed countries to give due consideration to the needs to the developing countries.

Before concluding, I would like to once again thank the Organizing Committee and the people of this beautiful city of Monterrey for making all the necessary arrangements for this auspicious conference a success, as well as for the warm welcome extended to us since our arrival.

Thank you.

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