MIC to strengthen data on local companies
THE Myanmar Investment Commission will work with the Ministry of Planning and Finance to collect accurate data on companies operating across the country, an exercise that officials say will help the government to form better economic policies.
The MIC has data on large investments and companies, but many businesses in Myanmar are only required to register with a local authority or ministry, said secretary U Aung Naing Oo.
This haphazard approach to recordkeeping has made it hard for the government to draft economic policies, he told The Myanmar Times.
“Other countries have a single institution for company registration, but there are a lot of places here. It is best if the country adopts a new system for registering at a single place,” he said. “We face many difficulties when it comes to statistics and struggle to find the correct data when drafting policies.”
Companies often operate with permission from a ministry, without registering at the MIC, he said, while ministries rarely disclose how many permits they have granted.
“Because of a rule allowing companies to operate with permission from the relevant ministry, the MIC does not have an accurate list of local companies,” he said.
Foreign companies operating without MIC permission are not allowed to work in Myanmar for more than one year and have no right to tax breaks or other benefits, he added.
A new 11-member committee formed by President U Htin Kyaw last month will likely be responsible for compiling accurate statistics. U Aung Naing Oo said the MIC will advise the committee on how best to go about this.
“It is impossible to draft any kind of policy or strategy without firm statistics, and policies and strategies will not be workable if they are drafted based on incorrect data,” said U Hla Maung, a retired director of the Ministry of Commerce.
“We do not even have exact data on the number of SMEs or large-scale companies operating in the country. The government will need to fix this first.”
Accurate company data will also help the Internal Revenue Department to keep track of taxpayers.
Between 1988 and May 2016, MIC data show that Myanmar has approved 1108 foreign investments worth US$63.7 billion and 1190 local investments worth K11,625 billion.
According to the Central Department of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, there are more than 200,000 SMEs in Myanmar.
The Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, which works closely with the MIC, has been cleaning up its companies register since 2014 – last year it struck hundreds of inactive businesses from its records.