Business Roundup

Irrawaddy Business Roundup

By Nan Lwin 12 September 2020

YANGON—As COVID-19 cases spike in Myanmar, the government ordered residents in Yangon not to leave the region.

As of Friday, 2,265 coronavirus cases have been reported with 14 deaths. Many firms are already prepared to face more challenges as COVID-19 instructions hamper business activities.

This week the government extended the commercial and income tax deadlines for businesses in the country affected by the pandemic.

As the country is facing pressure from China to implement Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, Myanmar employed a German consultancy firm to oversee tendering for the initial part of Yangon’s new city development.

Elsewhere, the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations (MIFER) said it will lend money to more than 900 COVID-19-hit businesses.

Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) management committee has received proposals to build a refinery at the site from at least six Chinese firms this week.

And finally, the deputy chief executive officer at one of Myanmar’s largest banks has received an Asean Entrepreneur Award for her work to empower women.

Tax deadline extended for businesses

The Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry said it will again extend the tax payment deadline for COVID-19-hit businesses until the end of December.

It said it eased the deadlines for paying quarterly income tax and monthly commercial tax for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the garment sector, hotels and tourism businesses for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Income tax payments that were originally due by March 31 for the second quarter, June 30 for the third quarter and Sept. 30 for the fourth quarter can now be made until Dec. 31. Monthly commercial tax for March to November in the current fiscal year can also be paid by Dec. 31, the ministry said.

Since late March, Myanmar’s economy has slowed significantly due to COVID-19, with the clothing sector, hotels, tourism and SMEs hit the hardest.

In June, the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population said 5,658 micro firms and SMEs and 270 large factories, shops and restaurants had closed due to COVID-19, leaving more than 140,000 people jobless.

German firm hired for New Yangon City deals

The government has hired the German consulting firm Roland Berger Ltd. to oversee a “Swiss challenge” tendering process for new industrial park and infrastructural projects at New Yangon City.

The new city is key to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s BRI to construct an international infrastructure network.

The Yangon regional government-owned New Yangon Development Company signed an agreement with the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) in 2018 to draw up a proposal for the first phase of the project, worth US$1.5 billion (2 trillion kyats). According to the Swiss Challenge model, other firms are invited to beat CCCC’s bid.

MIFER announced that the government signed an agreement with Roland Berger to consult on the Swiss challenge tendering for the “new industrial park and essential ancillary infrastructure”.

The ministry said the company will cover end-to-end preparation and execution of the Swiss challenge process, including support for communicating the outcome of the process to external stakeholders and for the negotiations, preparation, revisions and signing of the concession agreement.

The German company would study the entire project, including CCCC’s proposals, progress made by the Yangon government and the details of the agreements signed between both sides. The company will also analyze the costs calculated by CCCC.

Loans for more than 900 businesses

MIFER announced that it will provide loans for more than 900 businesses to ease the impact of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 economic relief committee received more than 10,000 loan applications in the second round of COVID-19 funding, the ministry said.

MIFER said it has prioritized the agricultural, livestock and fishery sectors along with exporters and importers. The committee will provide 100 billion kyats ($75 million) in loans, focusing on nine sectors, including overseas employment and vocational schools, the ministry added.

The first round of COVID-19 funding prioritized garment production, hotels, the tourism sector and SMEs. It received more than 5,000 applications but only 3,000 received loans.

Chinese companies eye Dawei refinery

The Dawei SEZ Management Committee has received refinery proposals from the six Chinese companies for the Tanintharyi Region project, Southeast Asia’s largest industrial complex.

The committee said it met the Yunnan Indo-Pacific Group, ZhongAn and CNPC East China Design Institute and the domestically owned Myanmar Chemical and Machinery Co. Ltd. for the construction of a refinery.

The committee held a separate meeting with Hong Kong New Energy Investment Holdings Limited, China Huanqiun Contracting and Engineering Co. Ltd, China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Co. Ltd and China Energy Engineering Corporation.

The Chinese companies will carry out feasibility studies and reveal the estimated investment for the projects, the committee said.

The government has finalized negotiating for the initial phase of construction of the Dawei SEZ, an $8-billion project (10.6 trillion kyats) that includes a deep seaport.

KBZ’s deputy wins Asean award

A deputy chief executive officer at one of Myanmar’s largest banks has received the fifth Asean Entrepreneur Award 2020 for empowering women.

Kanbawza Bank said Daw Nang Kham Noung’s award recognized her efforts for financial inclusion and gender equality in Myanmar through her work with KBZ Bank and KBZPay.

The award was established in 2016 for outstanding business leaders in Asean in collaboration with Maekyung Media and the Asean-Korea Centre (AKC). This year, AKC invited Myanmar to compete in five categories: regional champion; entrepreneurs 4.0; empowering women; startups and the next unicorns.

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