World Bank gives $140 million interest free loan to Myanmar for power plant upgrade

The World Bank is lending Myanmar $140 million to upgrade an aging power plant in southeastern Mon state in a small step toward overcoming the country's chronic electricity shortage.

Myanmar, which exports natural gas to neighboring Thailand under contracts signed by its former military government, has suffered an energy deficit for years.

The World Bank says the interest free loan will fund a refurbishment of the Thaton gas-fired power plant, increasing its generating capacity by 250 percent.

It is the first World Bank loan to Myanmar since the development lender forgave $440 million of unpaid debt in January.

Myanmar only recently emerged from a half-century of military rule and isolation. More than 70 percent of people are without electricity.