Burma

World Bank Halts Payments to Myanmar After Coup

By Nan Lwin 25 February 2021

YANGON—The World Bank on Monday notified Myanmar’s military regime that it had put a hold on disbursements for its existing development operations in the country in sectors ranging from electricity and education to health following the military takeover, according to a leaked document.

An official from the bank confirmed to The Irrawaddy that the statement is authentic. The bank is carefully following the situation to monitor compliance with its policies, the official said.

The Irrawaddy has learned that the bank has also suspended all ongoing projects to which it had commitments.

According to the World Bank’s development project list, the bank is involved in at least 24 ongoing projects in Myanmar worth billions of dollars.

In the document, the bank informed the military regime’s cabinet that the bank “will not be processing any withdrawal applications received on or after Feb. 1,” due to the recent developments in Myanmar.

The Myanmar military staged a coup on Feb. 1 and detained national civilian leaders State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, along with other National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders and pro-democracy activists.

The World Bank said that it would however make direct payments to suppliers, contractors or consultants for which withdrawal applications were received by the bank prior to Feb. 1.

Financing proceeds previously disbursed by the bank to a project’s designated accounts may be used only for eligible expenditures agreed with the bank, according to the document.

In the document, the bank said it may also seek a refund of funds that it deems are not required at this time for the carrying out of project activities.

On Feb. 19, the bank said it was “gravely concerned” about the military coup in Myanmar, saying it constituted a major setback to the country’s transition and its development prospects.

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