World Bank forecasts Myanmar's economic growth to remain subdued

YANGON, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank forecast Myanmar's economy to remain subdued at 2 percent in present fiscal year FY 2020-2021 which started in October, according to Myanmar Economic Monitor report launched on Wednesday.

The World Bank also forecast that Myanmar's economic growth may slowly recover to 7 percent on average with positive medium-term outlook, supported by public investment, resurgence in manufacturing and productivity gains associated with the adoption of digital technology.

In previous FY 2019-2020 which ended in September, the growth of the country's economy is estimated to have slowed down to 1.7 percent and the containment measures against the COVID-19 pandemic have weakened consumption and investment, and disrupted businesses' operations and the supply labor and inputs, the report said.

Businesses have been suffering from severe impact since the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic resurged in Myanmar in the middle of August and the World Bank's survey in October showed that the majority of firms in all sectors experienced profit declines greater than 50 percent in the previous months.

The ability of firms to survive consecutive months of large declines in profits severely limits their prospects for recovery as the second wave continues through to December, the report said.

The bank's report said that the pandemic had a drastic impact on industrial output in the second half of FY 2019-2020, slowing down the growth in the industrial sector to 1.3 percent from 8.4 percent in the previous FY 2018-2019.

The World Bank recommended the government to focus on relief measures that slow the spread of the virus while protecting the most vulnerable, saying that a demand-led strategy for a medium- to longer-term recovery will be required to stimulate the economy once the spread of the virus has been contained and economic activity gradually resumes.

The bank also suggested that measures should be considered to support private consumption and investment while encouraging the country to explore economic opportunities in the areas of digital technology, pharmaceutical production, insurance services, health and educational services and fintech as new growth levers.

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