RANGOON — Burma has become a full member of the Asean Infrastructure Fund, the last country of the regional grouping to gain shareholder status, the fund announced on Thursday.
“It [Burma] will be able to access funding from AIF for infrastructure projects, that will be how Myanmar benefits,” said Jin W. Cyhn, the principal economist of the Southeast Asia department of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which administers the fund.
Burma completed all required procedures to gain AIF membership after a meeting between the Ministry of Finance and the ADB, according to Jin.
Maung Maung Win, the AIF director for Burma, said that the country’s accession to the fund was a significant development amid growing regional infrastructural and economic links.
“Myanmar is pleased to become a full member of the AIF as this is an important step towards further integration into Asean and global economy, as well as helping the country to access funding to invest in infrastructure to support its long term development,” said Maung Maung Win, who also serves as director at the Ministry of Finance.
The AIF has thus far financed three infrastructure projects is Asean member states totaling US$165 million: $25 million for a Java-Bali power transmission project, $40 million for a sanitation project in Indonesia and $100 million for a power grid initiative in Vietnam.
Jin said the AIF board had already signed off on its lending plans prior to Burma gaining member status, but did not rule out possible financing for the country next year.
“Although, as we’ve discussed in a meeting today [in Rangoon], the AIF board has already approved a pipeline of projects for 2015 [without consideration for Burma], we can adjust that based on what Myanmar needs, after discussions with the Ministry of Finance,” Jin said, adding that Burma had put up $100,000 in equity as its initial contribution to the AIF.
Based out of its offices in Rangoon and Naypyidaw, “ADB will identify key government projects, and based on that the AIF will finance them,” he said, adding that projects ranging from road and rail construction to water supply development would potentially be eligible for AIF lending.
The ADB is one of the largest shareholders in AIF, contributing US$150 million in equity, and it acts as the overall administrator of the fund. Set up in 2011, the AIF aims to help finance infrastructure in the Asean region, which consists of nations at widely varying stages of development.
Burma’s infrastructure is among Asean’s least developed, though recent years have seen several projects begun or proposed that would seek to bring the country up to speed with its neighbors, including transnational road and rail links, increased power-generating capacity and three major deep-water ports.