Economic Focus – ‘Poor’ Myanmar (who now is ‘poorer’)

According to CNN (6th May 2008), the cyclone death toll in Myanmar have soared above 22,000 in Tuesday with 41,000 missing individuals . Estimates put a figure of around 1 million homeless people after the devastating cyclone Nargis hit the nation on Saturday.

Worst still is the fact that some of the last rice-growing areas have been wiped out together with entire villages. The Irrawaddy River delta region, regarded as Burma’s rice-bowl is very adversely affected and is likely to push up the international price of rice (which has already increased to alarming new heights).

The U.N. stated on Tuesday that Burma’s military regime has signaled it will welcome foreign aid supplies for victims in this disaster. However, the foreign aid will most likely come at a price as Western countries are likely to demand for a more open environment in Burma. While this may be good for the citizens of Burma, the same cannot be said about the Junta (military) who have been in control since 1962.

Burma in terms of its economy remains one of Asia’s poorest countries with its economy riddled with corruption (BBC Country Profile). The military  controls key industries, and the severe mismanagement has caused a large black-market-driven economy.

Facts – BBC Country Profile

  • Official name: Union of Myanmar
  • Population: 48.8 million (UN, 2007)
  • Capital: Nay Pyi Taw
  • Largest city: Rangoon (Yangon)
  • Area: 676,552 sq km (261,218 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Burmese, indigenous ethnic languages
  • Major religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam
  • Life expectancy: 59 years (men), 65 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 kyat = 100 pyas
  • Main exports: Teak, pulses and beans, prawns, fish, rice, opiates, oil and gas
  • GNI per capita: not available
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