Thursday, September 21, 2017

USDP politician urges govt action on commodity prices

U Ko Gyi stands in the compound of his oil mill in Mandalay before his election to the Pyithu Hluttaw on November 7, 2010. Christopher Davy / The Myanmar TimesU Ko Gyi stands in the compound of his oil mill in Mandalay before his election to the Pyithu Hluttaw on November 7, 2010. Christopher Davy / The Myanmar Times

A Union Solidarity and Development Party representative says he is “pleased” with some measures adopted by the new government but urged more progress on ensuring farmers get a fair price for their crop.

U Ko Gyi, the Pyithu Hluttaw representative for Aungmyaythazan and a well-known figure in the Mandalay business community, said last week the new government had made tangible progress on several issues in its first months in power.

“One hundred days is just a short time but there have been developments … such as reducing export taxes, increasing pension rates and focusing on education more than in the past. So far I’m pleased with the performance of new government,” he said.

However, he said farmers were facing difficulties because of falling prices, particularly on the export market. The main reason is the appreciation of the kyat, which has made agricultural products unprofitable on export markets and dampened domestic prices.

“I know the issues between farmers, traders and businessmen because I used to work in the crop trading and [edible] oil industry. Despite the fact export taxes have been reduced 3 percent, exporters and importers are still struggling due to the low [US dollar] rate,” he said. “Farmers are not able to cover both cultivation expenses and their cost of living because the foreign exchange rates are in decline. Export taxes should be reduced further; this initiative can ensure prices are high enough to motivate the farmers.”

Few parliamentarians have more business experience than U Ko Gyi, who has worked for various trade organisations over the past three decades, serving as vice chairman of the Mandalay Region Chambers of Commerce and Industry, chairman of the Mandalay Region Oil Dealers Association, and an executive committee member of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

He said parliamentarians familiar with the business sector had a responsibility to inform ministers about the “actual situation” of domestic commodity markets and lobby for positive changes.

“Being Pyithu Hluttaw representatives, we need to take the requirements of public into consideration … and make proposals to members of the government as much as we can.”

He said he was confident the new government would “take serious action” if the proposals were sound.

“Having seen improvements in just a short period of time, we are expecting more progress in the long run as well,” he said. – Translated by Yamon Phu Thit