The Asian Development Bank expects to resume its operations in Myanmar “sooner rather than later,” the bank’s Managing Director-General Rajat Nag said.
Returning to the Southeast Asian country is “very likely and very desirable,” Nag said in an interview with Bloomberg News in Manila today. Myanmar’s $490 million in arrears to the Manila-based bank is “not an insurmountable issue,” he said.
Democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi became a parliamentarian for the first time today in a further sign of political opening in Myanmar that may put it back on the map for investors. The U.S. has said it would ease some economic and financial restrictions on the former military dictatorship that floated the nation’s currency last month.
“I don’t see any reason why not” to trust the government, Nag said. “They have made fairly far-reaching fundamental reforms leading to the international community being comfortable enough with them to lift sanctions.”
Since taking office in March 2011 in the country of 64 million people, President Thein Sein has freed political prisoners, sought peace deals with ethnic armies and halted the construction of a $3.6 billion Chinese-backed hydropower project in response to criticism China was exploiting Myanmar’s resources.
He also met with Suu Kyi and convinced her party to rejoin the political process after boycotting elections in 2010.
“The country having been closed for so long has huge needs in almost every sector,” Nag said. “It has many distortions, one of which was the currency, which has now been addressed, which is a very positive step.”
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