The Irrawaddy

Commission Approves 13 Foreign Investment Proposals During New Govt Term

A worker is seen at a construction site for Shangri-La Residences in Rangoon on September 20, 2013. (Photo: Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters)

RANGOON — The newly re-formed Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) approved 13 foreign investment proposals and nine local investments over the last two months, a figure significantly lower than the same period in 2015, Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the MIC, told The Irrawaddy.

Since the MIC was re-staffed in early June under the chairmanship of Kyaw Win, Union Minister of National Planning and Finance, the commission has been met with more than 100 proposals left over from the previous government’s term; most are still waiting to be approved.

“The new MIC has approved 13 foreign investment proposals. We’re checking more proposals, as most of them are for the construction of office towers,” said Aung Naing Oo.

“It’s only the beginning stage of the new government. That’s why we are taking more time to approve the proposals,” he said.

The foreign investment proposals approved by the MIC over the last two months have an estimated net worth of more than US$124 million. These include proposals for seven projects in the manufacturing sector, three in transport and telecommunications, and three proposals whose sectors were not known at the time of publication.

Approved local proposals, which total nine projects, include one in transportation, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, respectively. Two projects have been approved in the hotel and tourism industry, and three are not yet known. The total investment is valued at nearly US$35 million.

“Some local proposals include investment in hotel projects in Mandalay and Kengtong [Kengtung],” Aung Naing Oo said.

The amounts of these investments—both local and foreign—are estimates provided at the time of proposal.

Yet these foreign investment projects are expected to create 9,651 job opportunities in Burma; the local investment proposals aim to establish more than 1,750 jobs.

The MIC, which is responsible for assessing and approving large-scale investments and is headed by Union-level government officials, initially consisted of at least nine members who dealt largely with processing foreign investment. Each set of MIC members serve a term of three years.

In the first quarter of the 2015-16 fiscal year, 71 projects were approved at a valuation of $2.65 billion. The first quarter of the 2014-2015 fiscal year saw 39 projects approved which were valued collectively at $810 million.

However, when compared to last year, the first quarter of the 2016-2017 fiscal year has seen lower numbers of approval, which some attribute to the country undergoing a transition period with the new government.

Dr. Maung Maung Lay, vice chairman of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), told The Irrawaddy that though the National League for Democracy-led government has announced its 12 economic policies, they appear to be very general, which will impact foreign direct investment (FDI) entries.

“General economic policies will not work well. More rules and regulations need to be put into place—that’s why decisions concerning FDI are also ‘wait and see’ this year,” he said.

Maung Maung Lay added that other countries in the region are welcoming FDI with more attractive methods, which could delay Burma’s own development, as investors often have to build infrastructure themselves in order to complete projects.

“It is important to welcome FDI here,” he said.