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Myanmar’s Missing Millions

November 3, 2021by Anrike Visser

First published by The Diplomat

“Millions of dollars in pandemic relief funding from the IMF have gone missing under the military regime, even while Myanmar battles a surge of COVID-19 cases.

As Myanmar battles to contain a third COVID-19 wave, millions of dollars in pandemic relief funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have gone missing.

Just days before the February 1 military coup, the IMF transferred $372 million to authorities in Naypyidaw to help combat the virus. Eight months later, however, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said during a press conference that “it’s not possible for the Fund to ascertain whether the regime is using the funds as they were intended, namely, to tackle COVID and support the most vulnerable people.”

A big part of the problem is that the military junta is not as transparent as the previous civilian government.

When the IMF awarded an earlier batch of COVID-19 relief funds to Myanmar in June 2020, totaling $356 million, the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government agreed to disclose any procurement contracts worth more than 100 million Myanmar kyat (about $72,000 at that time) on the website of the Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Industry.

Other conditions included publishing online quarterly reports of all COVID-19 related outlays and an audit by the Office of the Auditor General for Myanmar.

Both loans, totaling over $728 million, were provided under IMF programs for lower-income countries and were specifically designed for “increasing healthcare spending, tax relief measures, and transfers to vulnerable households” in Myanmar.” […]

Read the full investigation at The Diplomat.

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