Thursday, September 21, 2017

New Myanmar Investment Commission to be formed in June, says secretary

A New incarnation of the Myanmar Investment Commission, the government-appointed body responsible for assessing and approving large-scale investments, will be formed in June, its secretary said yesterday.

The former nine-member commission, made up of ministers, senior officials and businesspeople, was disbanded when the new government took office at the end of March. Since then, no new investments have been approved.

Almost 100 proposals – 48 foreign projects and 50 local ventures – are waiting for appraisal by the new commission, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported earlier this week. Most are for garment manufacturing and fishery products manufacturing, the report said.

Policies and rules governing investment applications and approvals will remain the same under the new government, even though new MIC members will be appointed, secretary U Aung Naing Oo told The Myanmar Times.

“It will not take so long to form the new commission, perhaps within a week or two. So far the format has not been changed. But some details are currently being debated by our seniors so we do not have all the information yet.”

Under the draft Myanmar Investment Law – a combination of the Foreign Investment Law and the Myanmar Citizens Investment Law – the MIC may become entirely independent. For now, it answers directly to the President’s Office.

Its independence would be welcomed by many. Under the former government some feared that ministers or other government officials on the MIC board may have faced conflicts of interest or the temptation for partiality.

In addition to paving the way for MIC independence, the Myanmar Investment Law is expected to ease some restrictions on business and support an increase in foreign

investment.

Until it is passed, some businesses will continue to lose out due to unfair advantages, U Aung Naing Oo told reporters last September. Some of the existing legislation is outdated: guidelines on joint venture companies, for example, are unclear and in critical need of rewriting, he said.

However, favourable laws and a transition to democracy may not be enough to bring in more foreign investment – earlier this year the MIC secretary projected investment approvals of around $6 billion a year until 2020, suggesting only a modest potential increase compared with previous years.

Approved investment for the 2015-16 fiscal year hit US$9.4 billion – the highest figure since 2010. Almost $4 billion of this was in the final month, when an unusually high number of investments were pushed through.

–Translation by Emoon