Parliament to Revisit Investment Laws in Final Session

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 17 November 2015

RANGOON — Burma’s outgoing Parliament convened this week for its final session before surrendering their seats to newly elected lawmakers, aiming to make strides on investment reform.

Lower House parliamentarian Khine Maung Yi told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that this week’s agenda is set to include discussion of two new investment bills, meant to streamline and update the Myanmar Citizens Investment Law and Foreign Investment Law passed in the early days of President Thein Sein’s government.

The new bills, which cover both foreign and local investments, have been in the works for two years following criticism that the previous legislation favored investors too heavily and lacked sufficient human rights and environmental protection measures.

The bill committee will submit amendments to the Lower House this week, Khine Maung Yi said, adding that lawmakers have already received drafts for their review. State-run newspaper Myanma Ahlin also published truncated versions of the two drafts on Tuesday for public consideration.

Revisions to both laws include “coordination for power sharing for state and divisional governments,” which the government can “permit” with regard to certain types of business, natural resource extraction and job creation in various administrative areas.

The published amendments reveal changes to sections 12 and 13 to the Citizens Investment Law and the Foreign Investment Law, respectively, granting the Myanmar Investment Commission the authority to delegate its mandate to state and divisional administrations upon the approval of the Union government.

Khin Shwe, an Upper House lawmaker and chairman of the Zaykabar Group of Companies, expressed confidence that changes to the two laws would not pose a threat to domestic business.

“I’ve discussed the issue [in Parliament] that we [domestic entrepreneurs] should have the same rights as foreign investors, this law should not harm us,” said Khin Shwe, a member of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) who lost his re-election bid last week.

“I have also suggested that local businessmen take loans from foreign banks to keep our businesses afloat,” he said. “I look forward to seeing it, too.”