Myan­mar open for busi­ness: min­is­ter

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - SU PHYO WIN su­phy­owin@mm­times.com

The Union fi­nance min­is­ter tells busi­ness lead­ers at in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment con­fer­ence that gov­ern­ment re­forms are build­ing con­fi­dence in the econ­omy.

WITH gov­ern­ment re­forms gain­ing trac­tion, Myan­mar is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing an at­trac­tive place to do busi­ness, the coun­try’s fi­nance min­is­ter has told an in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment fo­rum.

Speak­ing to hun­dreds of lo­cal and for­eign busi­ness lead­ers at the open­ing of the 5th Euromoney Myan­mar Global In­vest­ment Fo­rum in Nay Pyi Taw on Septem­ber 13, Union Plan­ning and Fi­nance Min­is­ter, U Kyaw Win said Myan­mar had only just be­gun to open up to the world.

“Both po­lit­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally, I be­lieve that 2016 could be a trans­for­ma­tive year for Myan­mar,” said the min­is­ter. “Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is linked to the po­lit­i­cal mea­sures that are be­ing un­der­taken to achieve na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and peace in the coun­try.”

The coun­try has learned from its neighbours, U Kyaw Win said, and was em­brac­ing an eco­nomic pol­icy of strong and in­clu­sive growth across the na­tion while en­sur­ing a path of en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity.

Myan­mar was open­ing up to trade, en­cour­ag­ing for­eign in­vest­ment and strength­en­ing its fi­nan­cial sec­tor, the min­is­ter told the crowd of busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

For­eign in­vest­ment be­gan to en­ter the coun­try fol­low­ing the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­forms in­tro­duced by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment elected in 2010, af­ter decades of mil­i­tary rule.

U Kyaw Win said that for­eign firms were eye­ing the progress of the new gov­ern­ment closely and in­vest­ment would flow with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of its new eco­nomic pol­icy.

“In shap­ing an en­abling busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment for pri­vate-sec­tor de­vel­op­ment, a se­ries of re­form mea­sures is be­ing un­der­taken in the in­vest­ment arena,” he said. “Im­proved le­gal and reg­u­la­tory frame­works will cre­ate a more favourable in­vest­ment cli­mate in Myan­mar.”

With as­sis­tance from the Asia De­vel­op­ment Bank, the gov­ern­ment is up­dat­ing its com­pany law, and with as­sis­tance from the In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance Cor­po­ra­tion, the Myan­mar In­vest­ment Com­mis­sion (MIC) has drafted leg­is­la­tion to gov­ern for­eign and do­mes­tic in­vest­ment, he said.

Un­der the new leg­is­la­tion, in­vestors will be granted dif­fer­ent lev­els of ex­emp­tion de­pend­ing on the type of busi­ness and its lo­ca­tion. In ad­di­tion, the new law will al­low the MIC to del­e­gate power to re­gional author­i­ties to ap­prove do­mes­tic in­vest­ment with a view to cre­at­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties and spurring re­gional de­vel­op­ment. The process of grant­ing ap­proval for some projects would also be stream­lined.

The MIC par­tic­u­larly favours in­vest­ment in labour-in­ten­sive man­u­fac­tur­ing, while al­low­ing re­source­based in­vest­ment with min­i­mum en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. More­over, FDI pro­mo­tion plan­ning has been im­ple­mented with help from the Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency, par­tic­i­pants heard.

“Myan­mar needs large-scale in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment – in power gen­er­a­tion, trans­porta­tion, SEZ and in­dus­trial zones – to re­alise its longterm growth and de­vel­op­ment,” said U Kyaw Win.

Just 30 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion has ac­cess to elec­tric­ity, he said, adding that the gov­ern­ment wants to achieve 100pc con­nec­tiv­ity by 2030, which will re­quire “mas­sive” in­vest­ment into the power sec­tor.

Ken Tun, CEO of the Parami En­ergy group of com­pa­nies, said the fo­rum put for­eign in­vestors on no­tice that Myan­mar would pro­vide them with im­proved reg­u­la­tory frame­works, trans­parency and good gov­er­nance.

“If the fo­rum presents for­eign in­vestors with a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion, in­vest­ment will def­i­nitely in­crease – perhaps more than we ex­pect,” he said.

Ya­nis Boud­jouher, direc­tor of In­fra Cap­i­tal Myan­mar, said the new gov­ern­ment will need to get their pol­icy mix right be­cause com­pe­ti­tion for for­eign in­vest­ment was in­ten­si­fy­ing across the re­gion.

“In­vestors are very volatile. They can move any­where – Thai­land, the Philip­pines, Myan­mar – de­pend­ing on where they can find the most favourable en­vi­ron­ment.”

The coun­try was now more open to pri­vate-sec­tor in­vest­ment, but there was work to be done to en­cour­age in­vest­ment into large projects, said Ed­win Van­der­bruggen, part­ner of VDB Loi.

“The gov­ern­ment needs pri­vate­sec­tor help in pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture,” he said.

Speak­ing on the con­fer­ence side­lines, U Aung Naing Oo, direc­tor gen­eral of the Direc­torate of In­vest­ment and Com­pany Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said that for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment for the year should reach about US$1 bil­lion by Septem­ber. This is well below this fi­nan­cial year’s es­ti­mate of $6 bil­lion, but was to be ex­pected dur­ing a year of lead­er­ship tran­si­tion, he said.

De­spite the un­der-per­form­ing FDI num­bers, this year’s fo­rum marked a sign of grow­ing in­ter­est from in­ter­na­tional in­vestors, he said.

“The fo­rum drew more attention from in­ter­na­tional in­vestors than last years be­cause the top­ics are more prac­ti­cal and re­lated to in­vest­ments that are needed in Myan­mar,” he said.

Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

Union Plan­ning and Fi­nance min­is­ter, U Kyaw Win ad­dresses hun­dreds of busi­ness lead­ers at the 5th Euromoney Myan­mar Global In­vest­ment Fo­rum in Nay Pyi Taw.

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