Thein Sein Aims to Triple GDP by 2016

By Hpyo Wai Tha 19 June 2012

RANGOON — President Thein Sein said on Tuesday that his administration wants to triple Burma’s economy by 2016 in a televised address which focused on continuing the reform process to boost development.

“Our government would like to try to raise up the per capita Gross Domestic Product by three times. In another sense, that means we have to try to make sure that our people are going to have better lives, and higher incomes,” he said during his address to Union-level members, chief ministers and other high-ranking officials.

Contrary to his last speech earlier this month, Thein Sein did not mention the recent conflict in Arakan State and Naypyidaw’s response. Sectarian riots between Buddhist Arakanese and Rohingya Muslims have left 50 people dead with the UN claiming on Tuesday that 80,000 have been forced to flee their homes.

In his four-part speech broadcasted on state television, the reformist president said his administration must relax its monopolization on certain industries to alleviate the budget deficit by making way for partial privatization in some sectors where the government currently has total control.

The ex-general said that developing nations do not possess a sufficient government budget to meet development goals alone.

“So, our Union ministers have to take international loans without any hesitation if the sector they are working in has profitable economic potential,” he said. “On the other hand, they also need to be careful when choosing investments that are environmentally and socio-economically friendly.”

In his 41-minute speech, Thein Sein revealed that the new foreign investment law has been drafted according to international guidelines and will be passed by the legislature very soon.

“Burma’s Special Economic Zone law has been drafted. After taking suggestions from departments concerned and business organizations, the draft will be submitted to Parliament,” he said.

Thein Sein said Burma needs to reform land management systems so that they are accepted internationally as there are currently different regulations that have little effectiveness on the ground. He added that reform could bring in regional development to encourage migrant workers to resettle back home.

Thein Sein also said that the government will generate more electricity annually and undertake joint ventures with private companies to cure Burma’s chronic power shortages by making various forms of private investments into long-term plans like in other countries.

“I think it’s a good idea for a president to let his people know openly what he is doing, how he is doing it and what is next,” said Maung Wuntha, the consultant editor of The People’s Age journal in Rangoon.

“But we also want to hear more from him about the raging civil war and how our country is now engaging with the international community.”