Friday, September 22, 2017

Investment law set for Nov: MIC

The long-delayed and heavily amended foreign investment law will likely be enacted in November, Myanmar Investment Commission officials said last week.

The comments were made on the first day of an investment summit held at Parkroyal Hotel on October 17 and 18.

Even though the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw approved the amended law, which will replace one enacted in 1988, on September 7, it needed to be signed into law by President U Thein Sein. However, the president made comments on the draft and returned it to the parliament.

MIC officials said investors can operate using the existing law but are pushing lawmakers to approve the amended version, which was written to increase transparency and accountability, as soon as possible.

The amended law was expected to be enacted in April this year but was later pushed back to July and November, said Alessio Polastri, managing partner of P&A Asia legal and tax firm.

“This law has been taking so long because Myanmar has to prioritise political stability and many Myanmar bureaucrats are not friendly with investors yet,” he said.

Mr Polastri added that incorporating a company requires that many documents be submitted to the relevant authorities for approval, and MIC may take more than two months before approving any project.

U Tin Ko Win, deputy director general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), said investors can access three channels to do business in Myanmar, even though the amended law has not been enacted yet.

“The first way is that foreign investors can submit proposals to MIC under the existing investment law or they can also set up a foreign company, branch or representative office in accordance with the Myanmar Company Act of 1914,” he said.

U Tin Ko Win said the second channel would likely appeal to smaller companies that wanted to run ventures such as restaurants.

“The third way is that they can prepare a proposal and submit it to the central body of special economic zones such as those at Thilawa or Dawei and under the provisions of the SEZ law, whereby they can set up a joint-venture or foreign company,” he said.

He said foreign investors can enter resource sectors such as agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and gas, as well as labour-intensive industries such as garments and electronic parts assembly, and service sectors such as hotels and tourism, logistics and real estate.

He added that the government encouraged manufacturing and had established 30 industrial zones, with another seven to be developed soon.