Burma Poised for Six-Fold Rise in Multi-Millionaires: Report

A man plays golf at a floating golf club at Myakyuntha park, owned by the Htoo Group, in Rangoon on March 14, 2012. As the country starts to open up after decades of military misrule, a wave of crony capitalists are repositioning themselves as the fresh new faces of Myanmar Inc. (Photo: Reuters)

WASHINGTON — The ranks of Burma’s super rich will increase at least six-fold in the coming decade as one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries emerges from military dictatorship and embraces a market-oriented economy, according to a new report.

Wealth-X, a firm which gathers intelligence on wealth, estimates in its World Ultra Wealth Report that there are 40 individuals in Burma currently who have assets worth $30 million or more. It sees that number growing by 687 percent to 307 by 2022, the fastest pace of growth anywhere in the world.

Burma’s hotel industry, commodities especially lumber and finance and banking sectors are growing very rapidly and this will expand the ranks of the country’s ultra wealthy over the coming decade, said Mykolas Rambus, CEO of Wealth-X.

“When a market opens up to this degree as we are seeing in Myanmar [Burma], when there is a change in leadership, where there is a large population and it is located in Asia, there is immense new opportunity,” Rambus told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Burma also has significant problems of inequality. Twenty six percent of its population live in poverty, 75 percent lack access to electricity and the average per capita national income is $800 to $1,000 a year, according to the World Bank. The United Nations lists Myanmar in the bottom ranks for quality of life at 149 out of 186 countries in its 2013 Human Development Report, which measures factors such as inequality, education, healthcare, income and social opportunities.

However, the country is one of the most dynamic in Asia. Foreign investors are flocking there to take advantage of its immense natural resource wealth in oil and gas reserves, precious gems, timber, water and farmland as the former military dictatorship begins to privatize assets. The economy is expected to grow by 7 to 8 percent a year over the decade, and the Asia Development Bank estimates Burma could triple per capita income by 2030.

The question is whether this growth will benefit the majority of the population, Rambus said. “There is a question:  Will this wealth stay in the hands of a few, or will Burma provide opportunities for the wealth to trickle down?”

Indonesia, for example, saw rapid economic growth as it democratized but wealth has remained relatively concentrated in a few hands.  Russia since the collapse of communism has seen a large wealthy class emerge, but its middle class has not developed as rapidly.

Most of Burma’s richest people hold their assets in the form of private residences and  ownership of private companies, Rambus said.

Wealth-X compiles its survey of the world’s ultra wealthy, those with at least $30 million in net worth, through in-country intelligence and by reviewing a mixture of public and private records. It assesses the worth of privately held assets by comparing their value against that of publicly traded ones in the same sector and region.

In its most recent survey, North America continued to lead the world in the number of ultra wealthy, with 65,295 super rich holding a combined net worth of $8.88 trillion.  The number of super rich grew by 3.3 percent between 2012 and 2013, the Ultra Wealth Report found.

Africa saw the greatest percentage increase in the ranks of ultra wealthy in the developing world over the past year, up 5.1 percent to 2,535 people with net holdings of $325 billion, it said.

10 Responses to Burma Poised for Six-Fold Rise in Multi-Millionaires: Report

  1. It is not new at all to us. All thieves and robbers(Military officers and cronies) are known as super rich for decades, not just today. Who care when thieves and robbers become rich? They are outcast anyway.

  2. It is not a sign of progress if the super millionaires increase sixfold from 40 to 240 people.
    The whole effort of the reform process would be wasted, if that was the only outcome.

    The 26% of poor people must be uplifted out of the starvation zone, some parts of the country have more (Rakhine 38%).
    And a middle class of small entrepeneurs and well trained professionels has to evolve: they should be at least 50% of the population..

    It is quite sufficient, if the number of multimillionaires remains as it is now. They should become philanthrophists. A rich men of wisdom said: “It is not shameful to be born poor, but it is shameful to die rich without having helped your fellow-beings.”

  3. Burma Poised for Six-Fold Rise in Multi-Millionaires: A wave of crony capitalists and Military Big Boys will lead the pack. They have stolen the country blind. Welcome to the Burmese Way to Socialism. Where the poor will wash dishes, sweep the floor and pick cotton for bibs, pasos and lungyis for the rich.

  4. This is the main reason why educated and ethical exiled Burmese should not go back to Burma. It’s just too obscene to see all these greedy profit-vultures, blood-sucking vampire squids, heroine drug warlords and their children ripping off the poor. Burma is still ruled by a corrupt feudal oligarchy (which includes Suu Kyi, nowadays) based on the medieval principles of patronage, nepotism, coercion, bribery, “appanage” etc. The only way to get business done in Burma is by getting yourself dirty in the web of corrupt connections (guanxi in Chinese). You just have to bribe the ruling oligarchy, mainly ex-junta generals, their families and their business tycoon-cronies.
    As I’ve always said: Burma needs a French Revolution of sorts.

    • Be careful what you wish for. the last two French presidents are a Socialist and a social snob. Burma had lived under Socialism, and I don’t think they will willingly go back to such rule. On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of Sarkozy’s distaste for the poor and of how he tried to rob them at any given chance. Thein Sein and the cohort might already be doing that.

      • Are you serious in saying that Burma had lived under socialism? Really? Do you equate Burmese ways of Socialism to French’s socialist system where every citizens have health care? What a joke!

        • Easy, homegirl. Burma was under socialism during Ne Win’s rule, and people were content with whatever they could earn until he rammed one demonetization after another down their throats. Then, people lost their life savings overnight, and all hell broke loose.

          I was not equating French socialism with burmese one. I was comparing the result of French Revolution with a hypothetical result of likewise revolution in Burma. If you can’t comprehend a comment, ask nicely. Don’t make a fool out of yourself in a public forum with a hasty mouth.

  5. “Burma”, your remark is evidence for the fixed mindsets typical of many Myanmar people, a product of our schools and culture, which refuses to open up to now ideas and new possibilities. The ” “why bother, what’s the use ?” attitude that has kept us backward.

    • Love your comments taunggyi baby. Learn from the past and move on for a better future!

      • First, you have do undo the brainwashing done under military rule that makes even educated people still to this day, pointing fingers at India and China as the reason that Burman cannot amount to anything instead of realizing that Burman need to change their mindset and stop living with victim mentality.

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