Last week, the World Bank handed Myanmar a US$2bn aid package with a corruption warning attached to it: if the World Bank has evidence that funds are being misused, they will withdraw funding and close the aid program.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim handed over the aid package in person in his first visit to Myanmar, adding that he closed down aid to Bangladesh after uncovering concerns about the abuse of funds.
The aid package is destined to modernise the country’s ailing power networks: 70 percent of Myanmar’s people do not have access to reliable electricity. $1 billion will be used to expand electricity generation, transmission and distribution and the other $1 billion will support the development of the National Electrification Plan.
The World Bank lists Myanmar at 182 of 189 in it’s Doing Business project, which provides objective measures of business regulations for local firms in 189 economies and selected cities at the sub-national level. Analysis looks at domestic small and medium-size companies and measures the regulations applying to them through their life cycle.
In 2013, the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Myanmar 157 of 177 jurisdictions, with the least corrupt countries spots held by Denmark and New Zealand at number one, and Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia tying for most corrupt jurisdiction in terms of perceptions, at number 175.
The World Bank claims it audits every aid program thoroughly and will be able to identify misuses of funds and potential corruption. President Kim told the assembled press in Yangon that he feels “confident that we can monitor our projects.” Certainly, by showing up himself to launch the program, he has added weight to the program.