YANGON, September 12, 2013 –
The World Bank released the following statement on recent Myanmar media reports concerning the settling of arrears earlier this year by the Government of Myanmar with the World Bank:
“Mr. Jelson Garcia works for Bank Information Center, a non-government organization. He does not represent the World Bank or speak on behalf of the World Bank.
The Government of Myanmar made a strategic decision to clear its arrears to the World Bank and gain access to long term interest free financing to support reforms for the benefit of the people of Myanmar. This was a prudent decision at a moment of potential macroeconomic stress and sent a positive signal to the global community. It is common practice for Governments to hold reserves in foreign bank accounts in order to facilitate importation of goods and services and management of the exchange rate.”—–
Jelson Garcia, who has accused Myanmar of possessing US$11 billion in five foreign bank accounts, does not speak for the World Bank, according to a statement released by the World Bank.
Garcia is a manager of the Asia Program for the Bank Information Centre (BIC). Before working at BIC, he was involved with the Office of the Philippine President’s Program for Unification and Development. He was most recently employed with the Humanitarian Competency Program of World Vision-Asia Pacific’s Disaster Management Office. The BIC is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization that advocates for the protection of rights, participation, transparency, and public accountability in the governance and operations of the World Bank Group and regional development banks, according to BIC’s official website.
Ye Htut, spokesman for President Thein Sein, issued the following statement on his Facebook page on Thursday evening: “The government has not used state funds to open accounts in foreign banks. If they have enough evidence to prove it, the government will be ready to take action.”
He stated only that the government does not possess US$11 billion in foreign bank accounts. But whether or not someone has possessed these funds is not stated. His statement neither confirmed nor denied that the money is in foreign bank accounts.
If the accounts are revealed to be privately owned, some observers say, the public will demand that the funds be returned to the state and its people.
The World Bank has not dismissed the allegation that Myanmar possesses US$11 billion. It has said only that Jelson Garcia works for the BIC and does not represent the World Bank or speak on its behalf.