On the eve of a critically important IMF Article IV Consultation Mission to Myanmar, the basic question is: where’s the beef on economic reform? After over a year of post-election policy debate, meaningful economic reform initiatives have been meager. Allowing more room for union rights is an important step, and holding national conferences to talk about strategies for poverty alleviation and agriculture sector improvement are extremely welcome.
But the economic underpinnings needed for a successful democratic transition have not yet been addressed. These include: (a) policy reforms and actions to tackle emerging macroeconomic problems such as exchange rate appreciation and inflation; (b) concrete measures to stimulate the private sector; and (c) reforms in the exchange rate, financial system, investment policies, and state-owned enterprises that address entrenched military interests and control over economic resources that are impeding national economic development.