Due to wartime destruction and the insurrection, per capita output in Burma today is at a little less than 80 per cent of the 1938-39 level, although it is slowly rising. Industrial production plays a very minor role in the Burmese economy. In the colonial period, the British concentrated on developing the extractive industries — oil, mining, teakwood, etc. — and agricultural products, such as rice, which could be sold abroad. Profits from these operations were seldom reinvested in Burma. Manufactured goods were all imported; only a handful of local factories were set up. At present, agricultural production and the related sectors such as processing and marketing make up just below two-thirds of the total gross domestic output.
To put our economy in balance, we must carry out a moderate industrialization program immediately. Because there is so little accumulated private wealth in Burma, the State has a vital role to play in supplying and mobilizing investment funds and spearheading this modest industrialization. Certain essential utilities have been nationalized—railways, river transport, electric power—and also rice and timber export. In addition, the State has stimulated manufacturing by the erection of plans in cement, textiles, jute, steel-rolling, sugar, brick and tiles, and pharmaceuticals. Some of the old British enterprises, such as in oil and mining, have been revived as joint ventures, and have proved successful.