Burma

Singapore Agency to Help Myanmar Find Partners for Key Infrastructure Projects

By Nan Lwin 28 May 2020

YANGON—Under an agreement with Myanmar’s Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry (MOPFI), Singapore’s Infrastructure Asia (IA) will help identify suitable investors, including by inviting international-standard tenders, for infrastructure projects listed in Myanmar’s Project Bank, an online database of priority projects aligned with the country’s sustainable development plan.

According to the Singapore Embassy, under the agreement, which was signed on Wednesday, IA will share best practices and knowledge in order to structure and improve the bankability of the projects, as well as identify and connect authorities with suitable investors and other partners.

IA will also work with MOPFI to appoint advisers to carry out procurement, provide technical support and invite international-standard tenders for the projects.

IA is an initiative established by Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to play a mediation role to connect Asian governments with the relevant experts, developers, professional services, technical and financing solutions, and building capabilities, as well as provide advisory services including conceptual structuring, to improve the viability and success of projects.

In a statement, the Singapore Embassy said, “Amid economic uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, infrastructure in areas such as supply chains, information and communications technology, public health and clean energy can help rebuild and stimulate economies.”

It said the agreement aims to provide and promote growth in both Myanmar and Singapore.

Myanmar’s recently launched COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) comprises new measures and response plans to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. The measures include steps to expedite the solicitation of strategic infrastructure projects and to approve and disclose large investments by reputable international firms that may be currently experiencing delays, through fast-track procedures.

U Khine Win, executive director of the Sandhi Governance Institute, told The Irrawaddy the move would help Myanmar make decisions on financing and commercial viability as it seeks to implement mega-infrastructure projects with best practices, as these are areas in which IA has experience.

Currently, China is pushing Myanmar to move forward with Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) backbone infrastructure projects in this country, including the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in western Rakhine State, the New Yangon City project in Myanmar’s commercial capital and the Cross-Border Economic Cooperation Zones in Shan and Kachin states.

According to the Myanmar Ministry of Information, a virtual signing ceremony for the agreement was witnessed by Union Minister for Planning, Finance and Industry U Soe Win; deputy ministers U Set Aung and Dr. Min Ye Paing Hein; ministry permanent secretaries and departmental heads; officials from the Prime Minister’s Office of Singapore; Singapore’s ambassador to Myanmar; and representatives of IA.

Launched as an online platform in February, Project Bank aims to establish “a predictable and transparent system” and provide key data such as project descriptions and status, total project cost, financing plans and timelines. It also notes the implementing government agency, project contact details and how each project aligns with the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP). Launched in 2018, the MSDP aims to align the country’s policies and institutions to achieve inclusive economic growth.

The Myanmar government said the Project Bank would help identify, screen, appraise and prioritize investment projects based on social, environmental, economic and risk indicators. The online platform will help increase public-private partnerships and opportunities for the private sector to invest in national development objectives. Some projects listed may still call for additional financing.

A total of 58 projects are currently listed in the Project Bank, having been screened by the National Economic Coordination Committee to ensure they align with the goals of the MSDP.

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