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US$245mn approved for Myanmar from World Bank

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US$245mn approved for Myanmar from World Bank | Thaiger
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– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

World Bank earmarks US$245 million for Myanmar, outlines 18-month work plan
Reuters
PHUKET: The World Bank yesterday earmarked US$245 million in credit and grant funding for Myanmar under an 18-month work plan, the first lending to the southeast Asian nation in 25 years and another sign the country is opening up after years of military rule.

The interim country strategy, endorsed by the World Bank board at a meeting in Washington, will guide the institution’s work in Myanmar, also known as Burma. The bank also approved an $80 million grant for community-driven rural projects.

Pamela Cox, World Bank vice president for East Asia and the Pacific, said another US$165 million will be made available to Myanmar once the country has cleared its overdue debt to Bank, which totals roughly US$400 million.

Talks on how the US$165 million will be allocated will take place in coming months, she said.

“Based on the strategy we are stepping up our support for reforms we want to target to creating opportunities for all the people of Myanmar, especially the poor and vulnerable,” Cox told reporters on a conference call.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund said it will send a mission to Myanmar in early November for talks with Myanmar on a possible staff-monitored program.

The program will not include funding but will help Myanmar’s efforts to deal with its debts to the Paris Club of creditors.

After five decades of brutal junta rule, Myanmar has stunned the world with rapid economic and democratic reforms, which has led to an easing of sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union to encourage further reforms.

Myanmar’s pariah image has been transformed by the release from house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, who in September visited the United States where she received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal. She has urged the United States to ease sanctions to support Myanmar’s reform process.

It is Asia’s second-poorest country, but as it opens up its economy, at stake is influence in one of Asia’s last frontier markets rich in natural and other resources.

“I am heartened by the reforms that have been taking place in Myanmar and encourage the government to continue to push forward with their efforts,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

The World Bank’s strategy will focus on helping Myanmar improve economic governance and create conditions the country needs for growth and job creation. It will hone in on three main areas: the budget and how public money is spent, regulatory reform to boost transparency, and private sector development.

In addition, the World Bank is involved in analytical studies that include a financial accountability assessment, a public expenditure review and an investment climate evaluation.

Cox said the World Bank’s efforts would try to shore up international confidence in Myanmar’s reform efforts.

The country is just opening up to the world after nearly 50 years of military rule, with international investors lining up to tap its vast resources. Asian firms, especially from China, Thailand and India, have dominated foreign investment in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector, although Chevron and Total also operate there.

“Going forward one of the most important things to do is to establish that there is transparency,” Cox said, noting that the government had taken steps to publish its budget earlier this year.

The government has also signed up for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international scheme that helps developing countries better manage their natural resource wealth.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip

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Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | Thaiger

Prince Philip, the husband and consort to Queen Elizabeth II, has died at the age of 99. The Duke of Edinburgh was the longest-serving consort in the history of the United Kingdom, retiring in 2017 after more than 20,000 public engagements. Born on the Greek island of Corfu, Philip had 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren with the Queen. Buckingham Palace released a statement mourning the loss.

Prince Philip was born on June 10, 1921 on the island of Corfu, Greece. He married Princess Elizabeth on November 20, 1947.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

 

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Prince Philip dies at the age of 99 – Buckingham Palace

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Prince Philip dies at the age of 99 – Buckingham Palace | Thaiger

The husband of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, has died at the age of 99. Buckingham Palace announced his death in the last hour.

Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947, 5 years before she became Queen. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history.

The couple had 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

SOURCE: BBC

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Thai fishing industry officials protest controversial ‘Seaspiracy’ documentary

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Thai fishing industry officials protest controversial ‘Seaspiracy’ documentary | Thaiger
Stock photo via Flickr

Thai fishing industry officials are protesting the controversial ‘Seaspiracy’ documentary as they say its information, regarding human trafficking, is outdated. The Thai Maritime Enforcement Command Centre spokesman Pokkhrong Monthatphalin, says the government had been cleaning up the fishing industry for years after its illegal practises were highlighted in 2015. He says Thai authorities have been trying to invited the documentary’s producers to come inspect the nation’s fishing practises themselves.

The documentary, Seaspiracy, focused on the extreme consequences of commercial fishing on local ecology. It also spotlighted Thailand’s fishing industry by interviewing former fishing boat workers who said they were trafficked to work on the boats as migrants. The workers said they were living in hell and were modern-day slaves.

In response to the damning allegations by former workers, Pokkhrong says Thailand’s commitment to ending such illegal practices had been recognised by the international community. He says the EU had taken the country off of its yellow-card status in 2019, citing Thailand’s alignment of its legal systems with international obligations to fight IUU fishing.

He says that year Thailand was taken off the yellow-card status, the nation had also set basic decent standards for those working in the fishing industry-a first for Asia. The US’s Trafficking in Persons Report also recognised Thailand for making headway in tackling human trafficking in the past few years.

But the Seafood Working Group has backed up the documentary by proposing the US State Department to downgrade Thailand to the Tier 2 Watchlist again, after the group claimed the recognition of workers’ rights was even more shoddy due to the Covid pandemic.

But Pokkhrong insisted that Thai authorities remained dedicated to promoting sustainable fishing and ending human trafficking in the seafood industry. The documentary, however, pointed to high-level corruption in the police department, with such officials allegedly playing a part in the trafficking of migrant workers.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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