Myanmar Coup: World Bank halts payment requests to military junta

The World Bank halted payments to projects in Myanmar on withdrawal requests that were made after the coup, the bank said in a letter to Myanmar’s finance ministry.

The World Bank also updated its general statement about the military seizure of power to reflect the payment halt.

“Effective February 1, we have temporarily put a hold on disbursements on our operations in Myanmar, as we closely monitor and assess the situation,” the bank said on its website.

The World Bank said it was putting in place enhanced monitoring of projects that are already underway, to ensure compliance with its policies.

World Bank President David Malpass said last week it was taking an “extra cautious” approach to Myanmar but was continuing to execute past projects, including emergency coronavirus relief.

The letter to Myanmar’s finance ministry, dated Feb. 22, said funds previously disbursed to a local project’s designated accounts may be used “only for eligible expenditures agreed with the Bank.”

“The Bank may also seek a refund of funds that it deems are not required at this time for the carrying out of project activities,” it said.

Last year, the World Bank approved over USD $350 million in new loans and grants to aid Myanmar’s pandemic efforts and to support farmers and rural employment.

The army seized power and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership after the military complained of fraud in a November election. The coup has triggered weeks of protests and strikes. The election commission said the vote was fair.

The army has promised a new election after reviewing voter lists. It has not given a date but it imposed a one-year state of emergency when it seized power.