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East Asia and Pacific

Banking on Myanmar’s financial sector: The road ahead

Nagavalli Annamalai's picture

Myanmar in 2012, when we started our financial sector engagement, and Myanmar today seem like two different worlds. Back then, sim cards cost close to US$500, visitors carried wads of crisp, new dollar bills, Yangon streets were filled with old models of Toyotas and Nissans, while the capital Nay Pyi Taw had only rickety hotels. Now streets lined with old shops have given way to $1 sim cards, brand new car models, international hotel chains and gleaming new shopping malls. ATMs and “We accept Visa and Master Card” signs are now nearly ubiquitous in the country’s cities.

Улаанбаатар хотын өрнөл—1990-ээд он болон одоо үеийн гэрэл зургууд

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: English
1990-ээд онд Монголд өнгөрүүлсэн цаг мөчөөс миний харамсаж явдаг нэг зүйл бол илүү олон гэрэл зураг дараагүй явдал юм. Гэхдээ би ганцаараа тийм биш байлаа. Хүмүүс тухайн үед тэр бүр зургийн аппарат авч явдаггүй байсны дээр 35 мм-ийн Никон аппараатаа гаргаж ирэх бүрт маш олон хүн намайг ширтэж байгааг би анзаардаг байлаа. Зургийн халсийг Бээжин хотоос авч, зургаа ч мөн тэндээ боловсруулах шаардлагатай байснаас тийм ч олон зураг авч чадаагүй ч гэсэн аз болж хэдэн зураг авч үлджээ.

1997 оны хавар би Монголын албан бус салбарын тухай судалгаа хийсэн нь Монголын хувьд энэ чиглэлээр хийгдсэн анхны судалгаа байсан ба мэдээлэл маш хомс байлаа. Албан бус салбар ямар хурдацтай өссөн, ямар хэмжээтэй байсан, энэ салбарт ажиллаж байгаа хүмүүс өөрсдийгөө хэрхэн харж зохион байгуулдаг, албан бус салбар дахь бизнес эрхлэлт, зах зээл хэрхэн өөрийгөө зохицуулж байсан зэрэг нь миний сонирхлыг ихэд татаж байв. 

Статистик мэдээллийг судлахын зэрэгцээ, таксиний жолооч, гутал тослогч жаалуудтай ярилцлага хийн мэдээлэл цуглуулдаг байсан энэ үе миний ажлын хувьд тэрнээс өмнө болон хойно хэзээ ч байгаагүй хамгийн сонирхолтой үе байсан. Төрийн албан хаагчдаас жижиглэнгийн худалдаа эрхлэх ТҮЦ-ний зөвшөөрлийг өгөх эсэхээ хэрхэн шийддэг байсан, албан бус (хувь хүмүүс өөрсдөө ажиллуулдаг, бие даасан) автобуснуудтай хэрхэн хамтран ажилладаг талаар ярилцлага авч байв. Ийнхүү тал бүрээс цуглуулсан түүхүүдийн хамт толилуулах тоо баримтыг цуглуулахаар Үндэсний статистикийн газар болон Улаанбаатар хотын статистикийн газартай хамтран асуулга хийдэг байлаа.

Dynamic Ulaanbaatar—photographs from 1990s and the present

Jim Anderson's picture
Also available in: Mongolian
One regret from my time in Mongolia in the 1990s is that I did not take more pictures. I wasn’t alone in this respect—people generally didn’t carry cameras, and whenever I pulled out my 35mm Nikon I got a lot of stares.  I had to buy and develop film in Beijing and, well, I just didn’t take nearly as many photos as I should have.  Happily, I did take some.

In the spring of 1997 I conducted the research for a study of Mongolia’s informal sector. It was the first such study in the country and there was a blank slate in terms of information.  I was fascinated by how rapidly it had grown, by questions about the size of the sector, by how people working in the informal sector see and organized themselves, by informal entrepreneurship and the spontaneity of markets.

I had as much fun as I have had in my career before or since, poring through statistics, interviewing taxi drivers and shoe shine boys. I interviewed officials on how they decide to provide permission for kiosks to set up shop and how they collaborate with informal (i.e., private, independent) buses. I worked with the NSO and the Ulaanbaatar city statistics department to do a survey to put some numbers with the stories.

Project Safety 101 for Kids in Tuvalu

Nora Weisskopf's picture

When I was in primary school, there was a large construction project happening on the road in front of our house. I remember it was loud, dusty and the subject of constant complaints from our neighbors. However, my most vivid memory is of all the shiny, majestic machinery being delivered by the workers in their bright orange uniforms.

There was an immediate fascination among the children with these powerful and temptingly dangerous machines. Of course our parents all drilled us with the same message – “Do not go near, do not touch, do not interfere with the nice men repairing the roads,” and so we abided, but the curiosity and thrill of potentially touching these metal monsters never entirely subsided. Luckily, working in the transport sector now I get to be around construction equipment all the time!

Second-generation capacity development: A story of Malaysia-Laos knowledge exchange on reforming civil service

Jana Kunicova's picture

What do you imagine when you hear the words “capacity development”? Most development professionals associate capacity development with training, seminars and perhaps study tours.  Most of the countries the World Bank works in require a significant boost in their capability to implement policies, programs and projects, especially in countries supported by the Bank’s fund to the poorest, International Development Association (IDA).

For training to be sustainable and have high impact, it should be targeted to a particular public sector problem, and coupled with initiatives to improve organizational and institutional capacity. 

How do we achieve sustained growth? Through human capital, and East Asia and the Pacific proves it

Michael Crawford's picture
Students at Beijing Bayi High School in China. Photo: World Bank

In 1950, the average working-age person in the world had  almost three years of education, but in East Asia and Pacific (EAP), the  average person had less than half that amount. Around this time, countries in  the EAP  region put themselves on a path that focused on growth  driven by human capital. They made significant and steady investments in  schooling to close the educational attainment gap with the rest of the world. While  improving their school systems, they also put their human capital to work in  labor markets. As a result, economic growth has been stellar: for four decades  EAP has grown at roughly twice the pace of the global average. What is more, no  slowdown is in sight for rising prosperity.

High economic growth and strong human capital accumulation  are deeply intertwined. In a recent paper, Daron Acemoglu and David Autor explore  the way skills and labor markets interact: Human capital is the central  determinant of economic growth and is the main—and very likely the only—means  to achieve shared growth when technology is changing quickly and raising the  demand for skills. Skills promote productivity and growth, but if there are not  enough skilled workers, growth soon chokes off. If, by contrast, skills are abundant and  average skill-levels keep rising, technological change can drive productivity  and growth without stoking inequality.

Water Access in the Philippines: Fixing the Institutions that Fix the Pipes

Aileen Castro's picture
Photo: NorthEyes Production/World Bank

As we celebrate World Water Day, I find myself thinking about my work and one central question: how do you reach 8 million Filipinos with no access to clean water? I remember growing up in Pampanga, a province north of Manila, and visiting my aunt’s house every weekend where I had to pump water from a deep well and carry buckets so we could water plants, wash clothes, and clean the backyard pig pen. Fortunately, these days there’s always water from the faucet so we don’t work as hard to do chores.

But the story isn’t the same for everyone. While our local water utility largely improved its services over the years, I can’t say the same for the rest of the country, especially in rural areas. While there are already over 4,700 water utilities in the Philippines, about half are very small and unregulated.


Abhas Jha's picture
Also available in: English
1985年9 月举行的“巴山轮会议”与会代表合影

我刚刚读完一部名为《不可能的合作伙伴:中国改革者、西方经济学家和使中国走向全球》(Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists and the Making of Global China)的著作,在某种意义上,这本书将我专业工作的两部分合二而一。

China, economic reform and the role of foreign experts

Abhas Jha's picture
Also available in: 中文
Group photos of the participants of the 1985 Bashan river cruise conference
Photo: copyright © / World Bank

I am a policy wonk. I have spent my entire professional career (first in the Government of India and then in the World Bank) watching up close how policy choices are made, how political processes play out and on how institutions and people form coalitions for or against any change based on their incentives. I have also worked in China for close to 8 years, and like so many before me, have fallen in love with the beautiful country, its people and civilizational depth and continue to be amazed at the sheer pace, scale and energy of the massive changes the country has undergone, lifting more than 800 million of its citizens out of poverty.
I just finished reading a majestic book entitled “Unlikely Partners: Chinese Reformers, Western Economists and the Making of Global China” that, in a sense, brings the two parts of my professional work together.

Listening to women while planning for development: Real life experience from China

Aimin Hao's picture
Also available in: 中文
“Women hold up half of the sky,” Chairman Mao said. So when it comes to development, it is important to listen to women – who generally make up half of our beneficiaries – and understand their views, preferences and needs. As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, I’m sharing some of my experience helping to increase gender awareness in World Bank-supported projects in China.

When we designed activities for the Ningbo Sustainable Urbanization Project, we carried out consultations with groups of men and women to make sure the proposed public transport system benefitted both equally. It was interesting to find that most men wanted wider roads with higher speed, while women cared more about the location of bus stops and adequate lighting on the bus.. Thanks to these consultations, we adjusted the locations of bus stops to be closer to the entrance of residential communities and reduce walking distance for bus riders. In response to the light request, we made sure that new buses purchased for the project had sufficient lighting for night use.
Conducting consultation with local women in Qianhuang village, Ningo, China.