UK aid pro­gram seeks to make it eas­ier to do busi­ness in Myan­mar

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

THE United King­dom’s devel­op­ment arm an­nounced a £25 mil­lion (US$32.5 mil­lion) aid pro­gram yes­ter­day geared to­ward mak­ing it eas­ier to do busi­ness in Myan­mar and boost­ing growth in key sec­tors of the econ­omy, like agri­cul­ture and gar­ment man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The UK and Aus­tralia are cur­rently work­ing with the Direc­torate of In­vest­ment and Com­pany Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Union of Myan­mar Fed­er­a­tion of Cham­bers of Com­merce and In­dus­try on de­vel­op­ing Myan­mar’s new in­vest­ment law and a range of busi­ness-re­lated ini­tia­tives to cut red tape, ac­cord­ing to Liz Pat­ter­son, pri­vate sec­tor devel­op­ment ad­vi­sor at the UK’s Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (DFID).

“We are al­ready work­ing through the World Bank on this and at the sub-na­tional level, try­ing to have a fo­cus on how long does it take to get a per­mit from the lo­cal gov­ern­ment, how easy is it to ac­cess the right peo­ple at the sub-na­tional level,” she said, speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence to launch the five-year pro­gram in Yan­gon yes­ter­day. “The fo­cus at the state level at the mo­ment, is we are start­ing with a study to look at what are the key con­straints at that state level, ac­cess­ing a busi­ness per­mit to reg­is­ter busi­nesses, for small to large busi­nesses.”

Re­fin­ing pro­cesses to make it eas­ier for busi­nesses at both the state and the na­tional level was an im­por­tant part of the econ­omy’s devel­op­ment, Ms Pat­ter­son said.

The pro­gram will look at de­vel­op­ing com­mu­nity forestry projects in con­flict-af­fected Kachin, she said, while in terms of sec­tor devel­op­ment, gar­ments and agri­cul­ture would be a fo­cus.

“We look at gar­ments and tex­tiles, which have lots of women [work­ers] and we want to im­prove the lives and eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment of women, so the gar­ment in­dus­try has been cho­sen for that rea­son,” Ms Pat­ter­son said. “And agribusi­ness has a lot of po­ten­tial to im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity and to in­crease trade of beans and pulses by sup­port­ing that sec­tor,” she added.

At a panel dis­cus­sion last week dur­ing an in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw, ex­perts and gov­ern­ment out­lined the nu­mer­ous fi­nan­cial and lo­gis­ti­cal ob­sta­cles fac­ing the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

The pres­i­dent of the Free­dom of Farm­ers League, U Thein Aung, said yes­ter­day that en­sur­ing proper land own­er­ship pa­per­work to gain ac­cess to low-rate loans was key to ad­dress­ing the in­dus­try’s woes.

“Fi­nan­cial sup­port in terms of lower-in­ter­est loans that al­lows us to use our farm­land for col­lat­eral is what we have been seek­ing for long time,” he said. “The high in­ter­est rate from in­for­mal lend­ing makes farmer’s lives very dif­fi­cult.”

Open­ing up new mar­kets for ex­port was an­other pri­or­ity, he added.

“We have ex­cess rice from sum­mer crops and it is close to mon­soon har­vest soon, but China these days has tried to stop rice im­ports from Myan­mar many times,” he said. “So the rice price will be low at the har­vest time. We need new mar­ket.

Photo: Staff

Sacks of beans are put out for sale at Yan­gon’s Bay­int­naung mar­ket.

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