Burma Reveals Its External Debt Is $11 Billion
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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Burma Reveals Its External Debt Is $11 Billion

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cashiers sort piles of kyat banknotes as they count them in a private bank in Rangoon on July 21, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

RANGOON — Burma owes US $11 billion in foreign debt—some of it decades old—and is negotiating with Japan and Italy to repay the outstanding sums, the finance minister said, disclosing the country's external debt for the first time in recent years.

Burma’s economy was stunted for many years by mismanagement and by Western sanctions imposed as the long-ruling military failed to implement democratic reforms. The military-backed but elected government that took office last year has pushed political and economic changes.

Finance Minister Hla Tun told Parliament that as Burma makes reforms and expands its international relations, it has begun discussions on the debt with multilateral institutions and donor nations, including Japan and Italy.

He revealed the figures in Parliament on Tuesday, and lawmaker Thein Nyunt recounted details to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Hla Tun said $8.4 billion in debt dated from the socialist regime of the late Gen. Ne Win between 1962-1988 and $2.61 billion debt was incurred after a military junta took over in 1988, making a total of $11.023 billion.

He said the pre-1988 debt represented bilateral loans and borrowing from and multilateral institutions that the government was unable to pay because loans and grants were stopped after the junta violently quashed a 1988 pro-democracy uprising. Available revenue at the time went into development projects.

The largest creditor before 1988 was Japan, with loans of $6.39 billion, he said, and the biggest post-1988 creditor is China with $2.13 billion.

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