Burma

Myanmar Appoints Ex-World Bank Economist Deputy Minister

By Nan Lwin 16 August 2019

YANGON—The Myanmar President’s Office on Thursday appointed former World Bank economist and poverty specialist Dr. Min Ye Paing Hein as deputy industry minister. Among his responsibilities will be promoting private investment in state-owned enterprises to make them commercially viable.

Aged 41, the holder of a PhD from a US university will be the youngest minister in the National League for Democracy (NLD)-formed cabinet led by State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. It has been mocked as “the gray cabinet” because a majority of its members are septuagenarians, with the oldest being 80.

In late July, the President’s Office appointed U Soe Win, the Union minister for planning and finance, to concurrently serve as industry minister after U Khin Maung Cho was shuffled out of the position over performance problems.

Dr. Min Ye Paing Hein has served as executive director of the Myanmar Development Institute (MDI), the country’s leading economic think tank, where he conducted various studies on the economy and investment. MDI also provides technical and coordination assistance to the government, as well as conducting awareness-raising and capacity-building activities to help it implement its development policies.

He is also a member of the government’s Development Assistance Coordination Unit, led by the State Counselor, in which a number of senior deputy ministers are members. The committee’s main duty is to improve the coordination and effectiveness of the distribution of international development assistance in the country and to ensure that it brings maximum benefits to the people.

Sean Turnell, a special economic consultant to the State Counselor who personally knows Dr. Min Ye Paing Hein, described the appointment as “first rate”.

“Ko Min [Dr. Min Ye Paing Hein] is one of the best and most insightful economists I have ever encountered, anywhere,” Turnell told The Irrawaddy. “Superbly qualified, astonishingly well read, experienced,” he added.

A native of Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, he received his doctorate in social science and political economy from the University of Wisconsin after completing his undergraduate degree at Cornell University in New York state. His official profile says he is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

The new deputy minister used to work as a consultant for DAI, an international development contracting agency based in Washington, D.C. and other social enterprises based in Yangon. He also served as an adjunct lecturer in economics at the Yangon University of Economics. He did some free-lancing as a consultant for a number of international organizations including Alternative Development Inc. and International Development Enterprises.

He is well-known in economic think-tank circles in Myanmar. Photos posted to social media show him with a number of well-known economists, both local and foreign, at economic and development-related events at home and abroad.

Dr. Min Ye Paing Hein attended the 2nd China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) Forum in Kunming, China in February as part of Myanmar’s delegation led by the planning and finance minister. CMEC is a major component of Beijing’s grand infrastructure plans for the country under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The forum discussed agriculture, livestock breeding, forestry, mining, the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone, tourism, railroads, bilateral cooperation, CMEC-related projects, the involvement of Chinese banks in Myanmar, the Yangon New City project, investment opportunities and financial cooperation.
On behalf of the Myanmar delegation, Dr. Min Ye Paing Hein discussed the first draft of the CMEC master plan (2019-2030) and Myanmar’s current challenges, such as conflict sensitivity, geographical and infrastructure constraints, and other obstacles to growth.

According to Chinese media, he said the master plan emphasizes the public’s views
and prioritizes their voices.

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