Parliament has approved accepting large loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This funding will help the government carry out its sweeping COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP), which may cost as much as USD 2 billion. During the same session, parliament approved a loan of 30 billion yen from JICA, payable over a 40-year term with 0.01 percent interest.
Among its economic relief measures, CERP includes soft loans and tax breaks for pandemic affected industries such as manufacturing, tourism and exports and all small and medium sized enterprises. It also calls for a new, public company to guarantee nonperforming loans. The government has diverted massive funds to CERP (most ministries have pledged 10 percent of their budgets), but foreign assistance has always been an essential part of the plan. The World Bank, which already granted a USD 50 million soft loan for CERP, agreed to provide an additional USD 200 million in financing to support the agriculture sector. Earlier this month the Export-Import Bank of Korea agreed to loan Myanmar USD 30 million for CERP, and UK announced USD 48 million in economic assistance for medical services.
Meanwhile, the global health crisis continues to slam almost every economic sector, most of all exports, tourism, oil and gas and manufacturing. “GDP growth rates for this year and next may decline by up to 2 percent, while the budget deficit is forecast to widen by up to MMK 3 trillion,” U Maung Maung Win, deputy minister for the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Investment, told parliament.