UMFCCI told to step up

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - SU PHYO WIN su­phy­owin@mm­

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials told busi­ness­peo­ple at the UMFCCI an­nual meet­ing that they have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to proac­tively en­gage for­eign in­vestors.

SE­NIOR gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have called on Myan­mar’s peak busi­ness body to step up and pro­vide both a con­duit for for­eign in­vestors and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for small lo­cal busi­nesses, as the coun­try’s econ­omy seeks new strides in lib­er­al­i­sa­tion.

Speak­ing to over a 1000 busi­ness­peo­ple at the Union of Myan­mar Fed­er­a­tion of Chambers of Com­merce and In­dus­try (UMFCCI) an­nual meet­ing on Oc­to­ber 30, U Phyo Min Thein, chief min­is­ter of Yangon Re­gion, called on the in­dus­try body to be­come more pro­fes­sional in the face of new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Lift­ing sanc­tions means the pri­vate sec­tor will have more ac­cess with in­ter­na­tional trade and busi­nesses, which are a fun­da­men­tal idea in see­ing our econ­omy grow,” he said. “UMFCCI needs to sup­port SMEs and to be a con­fi­dent or­gan­i­sa­tion that takes the lead for its mem­bers.”

U Phyo Min Thein said Myan­mar’s SMEs were the back­bone of the coun­try, and sup­port was needed for tech­ni­cal trans­fer and ac­cess to fi­nanc­ing.

“The gov­ern­ment needs to fa­cil­i­tate the pro­mo­tion of ex­port and trade flow, but, in prac­ti­cal terms. much of this will be done via FDI,” he said.

It is not merely about show­ing in­ter­est via for­eign in­vestor ap­pli­ca­tions, said U Phyo Min Thein; he added that there was work to be done to en­sure that in­ter­est is con­verted into pro­duc­tive in­dus­tries for Myan­mar, he said.

The gov­ern­ment was do­ing its part to re­duce red tape, he added.

“The [new] in­vest­ment law also mak­ing it eas­ier to do busi­ness,” he said. “But we need a bet­ter bank­ing sys­tem to sup­port the SMEs.”

Fi­nanc­ing sup­port and rules for col­lat­eral needed im­prov­ing in the bank­ing sec­tor, he said.

Com­merce Min­is­ter U Than Myint told the au­di­ence that the UMFCCI had the re­spon­si­bil­ity of rep­re­sent­ing the whole of the pri­vate sec­tor, and should be work­ing closely with the gov­ern­ment on part­ner­ing in projects.

“The new gov­ern­ment is seek­ing growth for econ­omy based on im­ple­ment­ing the 12-point pol­icy, but it will need to sup­port the pri­vate sec­tor,” he said. “As the UMFCCI is the peak body of the pri­vate sec­tor, it also needs to lead and sup­port the grow­ing econ­omy.”

The gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies were open­ing the door for busi­ness to grow in Myan­mar, he said.

“The pol­icy needs to be sup­ported by the pri­vate sec­tor,” the com­merce min­is­ter said.

‘UMFCCI is the door­way for FDI and other in­vest­ment.’

U Than Myint Com­merce min­is­ter

U Than Myint said his min­istry was look­ing at other trade lib­er­al­i­sa­tion and pro­mo­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­able busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

Ap­proval of the new in­vest­ment law, along with the US lift­ing of sanc­tions showed the gov­ern­ment was do­ing its part to re­move re­stric­tions on for­eign in­vest­ment, he said.

Tax restruc­tur­ing and mak­ing busi­ness li­cens­ing eas­ier would come into play next fi­nan­cial year, U Than Myint said.

“UMFCCI is the door­way for FDI and other in­vest­ment, as well as trade re­la­tions with ASEAN and the global mar­ket,” he said.

Speak­ing on the event’s side­lines, newly elected UMFCCI pres­i­dent U Zaw Min Win said the gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies needed to be clear and con­cise in or­der to help grow the econ­omy.

“Fi­nanc­ing plays a very crit­i­cal role,” he said. “Tech­no­log­i­cal trans­fer and ac­cess to mar­ket will also be very im­por­tant.”

U Zaw Min Win praised the gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts in es­tab­lish­ing the new in­vest­ment law.

“But for­eign in­vestors are still wait­ing the new eco­nomic poli­cies,” he said. “Cur­rently the econ­omy has slowed, which I think is be­cause of the tran­si­tion pe­riod and busi­nesses are wait­ing to see the out­come of the new poli­cies from the new gov­ern­ment.”

Mean­while, the lo­cal in­vestors were still con­cerned about an un­even play­ing field as for­eign in­vestors have much bet­ter ac­cess to fi­nanc­ing and tech­nol­ogy U Zaw Min Win said.

“Lo­cal in­vestors much pre­fer for joint ven­tures with for­eign com­pa­nies,” he said.

The UMFCCI pres­i­dent agreed with the gov­ern­ment’s as­sess­ment, say­ing that SMEs were the back­bone of the coun­try’s econ­omy and the fed­er­a­tion needed to find ways of mak­ing fi­nance more ac­ces­si­ble to small busi­ness, as well as con­nect­ing them with in­ter­na­tional part­ners.

“Il­licit trade is also harm­ing sev­eral in­dus­tries in the coun­try,” he said.

“We are con­duct­ing a sur­vey of il­licit trade to take to the gov­ern­ment and ask to ad­dress it.”

Photo: Thiri Lu

U Phyo Min Thein, chief min­is­ter of Yangon Re­gion ad­dresses busi­ness lead­ers at the UMFCCI an­nual meet­ing on Oc­to­ber 30.

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