Myanmar has already experienced significant economic impacts as a result of COVID-19, due to both domestic and international effects. Some areas of the economy have been particularly badly affected, such as tourism, manufacturing, and remittances. Going forward, there remains a high level of uncertainty about the development of the pandemic in Myanmar and around the world, and about the global economic outlook.
The pandemic poses serious threats to employment and income for a significant number of households. Many households are at risk of being pushed further into poverty, with significant negative impacts that can have long lasting effects such as under-nutrition, increased indebtedness, and children being denied schooling. There is thus a pressing need for policies that can protect household incomes, like in-kind transfers, cash transfers, and employment schemes. As such policies need to be targeted to households and communities that are most in need, and be implemented effectively, it is more important than ever that policymaking in Myanmar is flexible, well-informed, and able to respond quickly to emerging trends.
On 27 April 2020, the Government of Myanmar published their ‘COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan’, that provides a matrix for a wide range of economic interventions to respond to COVID-19. This document has a broad scope and effectively covers the main areas for which economic intervention is needed in response to COVID-19. In many cases the proposed actions were very clear and could be implemented quickly. In other cases, further work has been required to clarify which policies and programmes should be prioritised for funding, and how they should be implemented.
Starting from an assessment of the current economic and health situation in Myanmar and of the Government’s response, the project provides recommendations on:
- how to minimise the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining economic activity;
- best policy tools to support households and workers, and how they should be implemented;
- actions to improve governance and ensure an effective response to COVID-19;
- how to build on the COVID-19 response to strengthen medium and long-term policy reforms in Myanmar.
The project informs relevant policymakers and help them make decisions around future economic response plans, policies to be prioritised and their implementation features, and budget reallocations.