Ministry Declines ADB Infrastructure Loans

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As lawmakers last week questioned the government’s reliance on foreign loans, the tourism ministry decided to decline US$45 million offered by the Asian Development Bank.

The loans and the ministry’s goals were at cross purposes, according to U Yee Mon, who serves as permanent secretary of hotels at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. The funding was aimed at infrastructure assistance, including flood prevention, scaling up urban facilities, waste management, trade services, urban transport and water transport. All good initiatives, he added, just not tourism-focused.

“It is difficult for us to implement infrastructure development projects as we are the tourism ministry. Because the projects were not directly concerned with our ministry, we did not accept ADB’s loans,” he told The Myanmar Times this week. He added that the ministry had informed the Foreign Economic Relations Department of its decision to decline the loans on November 22.

ADB had offered both funding and technical assistance. While the former was turned down, the latter was readily accepted, U Yee Mon said.

Tourism operators were disappointed by the decision. They had hoped some of the ADB’s funding could be applied to building a data collection system for more accurate tourism arrival numbers to be used in tourism marketing and promotion.

“We need specific data to promote Myanmar’s tourism market internationally. To do so, we need support from the government,” said U Phyo Wai Yarzar, deputy chair of the Myanmar Tourism Federation.

Daw Hla Darli Khin, director of 7 Days Travel and Tours, added that had the loans been accepted, basic infrastructure improvements would have a knock-on effect in the tourism industry.

“Myanmar’s tourism sector is the most expensive [in the region] after Singapore … people will not come to Myanmar as long as it continues to be expensive. We all need to cooperate to improve the fundamentals, like transportation and basic infrastructure,” she said.

U Yan Paing Oo, a program officer at ADB, told The Myanmar Times that ADB and the Union government are considering an initiative to upgrade or expand tourism-related public infrastructure. “The scope and modality of assistance are still under discussion,” he said yesterday.

 

Source: The Myanmar Times

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