| YANGON, June 17
YANGON, June 17 Myanmar's economy should grow
8.5 percent during the current fiscal year, higher than earlier
forecast thanks mainly to rising gas production and investment,
the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.
In January, the IMF predicted that Myanmar would have 7.7
percent growth during the fiscal year that ends March 2015.
The fund left unchanged its forecast that inflation during
the fiscal year will be 6.5 percent.
Myanmar has launched sweeping economic and political reforms
under its quasi-civilian government, which came to power in 2011
following nearly half a century of military rule. The government
has taken moves to attract foreign investment, create jobs and
boost the country's weak infrastructure.
The IMF, which set up a monitoring program in Myanmar in
2013, said it would "intensify" its technical assistance and
training. Team leader Matt Davies told Reuters the Central Bank
of Myanmar had undergone "huge change" over the past two years,
including gaining independence from the finance ministry and
managing a floating exchange rate.
Davies welcomed Myanmar's decision to allow a handful of
foreign banks to begin limited operations after they receive
licences in September. However, he noted that their entry "will
place further demands on macroeconomic policy and stretch
Davies said he expects there will be more foreign investment
in manufacturing, telecommunications and natural resources.
Last year, Myanmar awarded telecommunications licences to
Qatar's Ooredoo and Norway's Telenor. Both
companies are building networks throughout the country and are
expected to launch service in the main cities within months.
In March, Myanmar awarded contracts to explore and operate
offshore oil and gas blocks to companies including Royal Dutch
Shell, Statoil, ConocoPhillips and
Total. Myanmar exported $3.7 billion of gas in the
fiscal year ended March 2013, up from $3.5 billion a year
earlier. Most of the gas went to neighbouring Thailand.
(Editing by Richard Borsuk)