ASEAN finance ministers have agreed to Myanmar’s proposal to enhance a “financial inclusion” system which aims to help all people in the region get access to financial services, a minister said.
“We agreed to enhance ASEAN’s finance cooperation in our endeavours for economic integration in order to support implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC),” U Win Shein, minister for finance, said at the 18th ASEAN Finance Ministers Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw.
Further discussion about the proposal will be made at a conference level, U Win Shein, who is also the chair of the regional meeting, said.
The meeting discussed the regional and global economic outlook, a post-2015 vision for the AEC and challenges in banking sector reforms. It focused on developing the financial inclusion system in order for everyone to get access financial services as Myanmar people are “very weak” in using financial services, U Win Shein added.
He said the ministers are “committed to facilitate robust economic growth in the region and to increase the region’s resilience against challenges.”
In a joint ministerial statement the ASEAN finance ministers said: “We reaffirmed our commitment to realising the goals of the AEC. We continued our activities in various areas under the Roadmap for Monetary and Financial Integration of ASEAN.”
The ministers also exchanged views with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) on the risks and policy challenges in a bid to maintain financial and economic stability.
Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Naoyuki Shinohara said at the meeting that Myanmar’s economy, despite opening up three years ago, still has challenges ahead, adding that it is “an advantage for the country’s economy to invite manufacturer-based investment.”
Takehiko Nakao, president of the Asian Development Bank, covered the outlook for ASEAN economies and policy challenges for the region.
After a strong economic performance last year, ASEAN’s economic growth is forecast to remain steady at 5 percent for 2014, accelerating to 5.4 percent in 2015, according to ADB’s latest Asian Development Outlook.
The macroeconomic fundamentals of the ASEAN countries are much stronger than in 1997, Nakao said. “It is clear that ASEAN members are working hard to address structural weaknesses especially in those countries with current account and fiscal deficits. Strong commitment to pursuing these policies helps build market confidence and thus reduces risk.”