Burma

Govt’s Foreign Investment Policy to be Released this Month

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 12 October 2016

RANGOON – Foreign investment policy will be announced this month after President Htin Kyaw passes a revamped Myanmar Investment Law, according to secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) U Aung Naing Oo.

Burma’s business community has been growing impatient waiting for details of foreign investment policy after criticizing the government’s 12-part overall economic policy released in July as lacking in detail.

Pledged foreign direct investment from April to September this year is less than half of what was spent in the same period of 2015 as investors await clear policy from the government before committing money.

“Foreign investment policy will be ready to be released in the coming days,” U Aung Naing Oo said at a press conference on Monday, adding that the Sept. 28 release date was postponed due to State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s ill health after her trip to the UK and the US.

The Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration (DICA) under the Ministry of National Planning and Finance has taken responsibility for creating the policy, deputy director general of DICA U Than Aung Kyaw told the Irrawaddy.

“Foreign investment policy will be announced following the ­passing of the Investment Law,” he said, adding that he expected the release this month. The Myanmar Investment Law has already been passed by both houses of Parliament but needs to be signed by President U Htin Kyaw.

According to the existing law, all foreign investment calls for the approval of the MIC. The new law, however, will only require the MIC to examine investment proposals at the request of the government. The bill also details separate incentives for different sectors to encourage development.

The MIC will examine proposals that require a substantial amount of capital, that have potential social and environmental impact, that concern land or property belonging to the government, or that are of national importance, according to the Ministry of National Planning and Finance.

Dr. Maung Maung Lay, vice chairman of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told The Irrawaddy that the rules and regulations of the Myanmar Investment Law will reveal the types of investment encouraged by the new government.

“I expect government will not be prioritizing businesses which are based on natural resources or can harm the environment,” he added.

U Ye Min Oo, member of the National League for Democracy’s economic committee, told The Irrawaddy that it is time for the government to say which sector will be prioritized for investment so that business people can make plans.

“Normally, the government announces detailed economic policy two months after they take office. It is now a little bit late,” he said.

During the new government’s first six months (April to September) foreign direct investment significantly declined compared to last year as foreign investors waited for policy announcements, according to U Aung Naing Oo.

According to DICA figures, pledged foreign direct investment from April to September this year was US$1.4 billion while the same period of 2015 was $3 billion. U Aung Naing Oo said he expects foreign direct investment numbers to reach last year’s total ($6 billion) after the new Investment Law has been passed.

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