Naypyidaw (AsiaNews/Agencies) - About 32 per cent of Myanmar’s 50 million population, or 15.8 million people, are living in poverty, this according to a report on poverty and living conditions in the country, compiled jointly by the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the World Bank.
Out of 15.8 million people living below the poverty line, 13.8 million are in rural areas.
Poverty has declined significantly since 2004, falling from an estimated 48.2 per cent to 32.1 per cent in 2015. However, beyond the 32 per cent living below the poverty line, a further 14 per cent are near-poor.
Poor households tend to have fewer working age adults, more dependents and fewer resources that can generate income, such as land or farming tools.
The extreme poor are disproportionately in the agriculture sector as casual laborers or smallholder farmers and have few alternatives for income.
Malnutrition, high infant mortality and poor-quality education limit the physical and cognitive development of children from poorer households.
Only a third of households have access to electricity from the public grid and nearly 3 in 10 people lack access to clean drinking water throughout the year.
Despite its growth, Myanmar's economy has recently suffered a setback.
Planning and Finance Minister U Kyaw Win admitted last week that Myanmar’s economy did not improve as well as expected, six months after he compared the country’s economy to a jet plane about to take off.
The International Monetary Fund has lowered its forecast for the growth of Myanmar’s gross domestic product this year from 7 to 6.7 per cent.
Faced with political pressure and the threat of sanctions over its handling of the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, Myanmar has sought China’s diplomatic and economic support.
The country’s civilian government and its powerful military view mainland China as an important strategic partner, but they do not want to be over reliant on it.
The government is thus expanding economic cooperation with other countries like Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, India and Japan.
Singapore remains the top investor, having invested more than US billion this fiscal year, followed by Vietnam with US.3 billion.