World Bank Discusses With Myanmar Ways to Expand Power Output

The World Bank, returning to Myanmar after more than two decades, is in talks with the government to help the country invest in gas turbines and expand access to electricity, an official said.

Axel van Trotsenburg, the bank’s vice president for East Asia and Pacific, told reporters in Washington that the turbines would help produce 120 megawatts. They would be financed by zero-interest loans as part of $165 million that is potentially available for the country.

“We believe the country has enormous potential provided the reforms are sustained,” van Trotsenburg said after returning from a trip there. “It will require a lot of hard work but also there will be solid support by the international community.”

Myanmar last month cleared about $1 billion in overdue debt with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank with a bridge loan from Japan, opening the door for increased lending as it seeks to overhaul its infrastructure.

The Washington-based bank last year opened an office in Yangon and appointed a country manager after a new government took power in March 2011 and initiated steps to liberalize the country after five decades of military rule. The bank has already approved an $80-million grant and a $440-million loan to support economic development.

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