World Bank to Survey Burma’s Business Landscape

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 28 November 2013

RANGOON — The World Bank has begun collecting detailed survey data on Burma’s business enterprises for first time, and expects the results of the endeavor to be available in June of next year, the global lender announced this week.

The World Bank will provide an assessment of the business environment and barriers facing firms doing business in Burma as the country’s formerly hermetic economy opens up to the West.

“Myanmar [Burma] is implementing a broad range of reforms to stimulate investment and growth, hearing from businesses in Myanmar on what they see as the main issues and comparing constraints they face with those in other countries can help to focus on policies with the most impact,” said Kanthan Shankar, the World Bank’s country manager for Burma, in the statement.

“As a first survey, this will also set a benchmark and help in measuring progress as the Myanmar businesses environment improves.”

The World Bank, working with local partner Myanmar Marketing Research and Development, will collect survey data from some 1,400 manufacturing and services companies in Burma, domestic and foreign and of all sizes.

The survey began this month and covers the cities of Rangoon, Mandalay, Monywa, Taunggyi and Bago, with preliminary results expected in June 2014.

The World Bank hopes the survey results can help inform government policy to promote investment, productivity and economic growth.

Maung Maung Lay, the vice chairman of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), said the survey could shine light on what ails Burma’s business sector—and how to cure it.

“It’s like physicians looking for what disease a patient is suffering from. We don’t know what is happening without a detailed survey. If we get this kind of survey, we can find solutions for Burma’s economy to develop,” he said.

The World Bank has conducted similar surveys in more than 120 countries around the world including in East and South Asia, the statement said. The results have included information on access to finance, access to electricity, roads and water, and business regulations.

Last month, Burma was ranked one of the world’s most difficult countries in which to do business by the World Bank, which said only a handful of economies, including Chad, the Central African Republic and Eritrea, offered a worse environment for entrepreneurs.