(Adds details, background)
By Lesley Wroughton
WASHINGTON Jan 17 Myanmar is seeking a
one-year, IMF-monitored program to help it craft economic
policies, pursue reforms and clear its debt arrears, according
to International Monetary Fund documents published on Thursday.
The IMF said the country asked for the program in December
to help "achieve sustainable and equitable growth, reintegrate
Myanmar with the global economy and reduce poverty."
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has implemented rapid economic
and political reforms since President Thein Sein's semi-civilian
government took over from a long-ruling military junta in March
2011, allowing elections, easing rules on protests and freeing
Still, the IMF cautioned that Myanmar's transition to an
open market economy will take time, with the short-term outlook
appearing "favorable" and the medium-term "promising."
The pace of economic growth is likely to hit 7 percent over
the next couple of years from around 6.3 percent this year. Gas
exports are set to peak in 2014-15, it added.
But the IMF said its analysis suggested Myanmar is in "debt
distress" because of arrears. It said the Paris Club of creditor
nations had invited the authorities for talks on the arrears in
"The authorities recognize that a successful arrears
resolution is essential for Myanmar to re-engage with the
international community and ensure debt sustainability," the IMF
said. "They aim to normalize relations with all creditors,
supported by the program."
Japan has already said it intends to waive part of the 500
billion yen Myanmar owes it in debt. Myanmar also owes nearly
$400 million to the World Bank and almost $500 million to the
Asia Development Bank.
The IMF said the main domestic risk facing Myanmar came from
the government's limited capacity to implement economic and
social reforms. It also warned that a possible escalation of
ethnic conflict in border regions could undermine investor
Myanmar's military has stepped up shelling and air attacks
on rebels in its northern Kachin state, raising doubts over
assurances by the Myanmar government that it wants a peace deal
to end the fighting now on China's doorstep.
The Kachin rebels are fighting for greater autonomy.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Eric Beech and