Monthly Archives: December 2016

Discussion on Foreign Currency Exchange

For the stability of foreign currency exchange rates, U Kyaw Win, Union Minister for Planning & Finance, Dr Than Myint, Union Minister for Commerce, U Kyaw Kyaw Maung, Governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM), U Maung Maung Win, deputy minister for Planning & Finance, U Set Aung, vice chairman of CBM and U Toe Aung Myint, permanent secretary of the ministry of commerce held a meeting in the meeting hall of the Ministry of Planning & Finance yesterday afternoon.
In the meeting, it was broadly discussed how the American dollar is gradually appreciating and how exchange rates of other currencies against the dollar are dropping. The ministers and officials noted that though there is the normal slumping of currency exchange rates, some are taking advantage of the situation in order to manipulate the exchange rates. Plans currently in practice and further plans to be carried out were discussed in the meeting. Included in the discussion were matters on allowing the import of luxury commodities, essential goods, motor vehicles, Duty Free Shop Goods and cosmetic products only after careful scrutiny. As regards exports, increasing use of the L/C System — Letter of Credit System — instead of exercising the T/T System — Telegraphic Transfer System, scrutiny of the remittance of foreign currency to overseas countries to re-invest capital, scrutiny of earnings coming into the country from exports and re-exports, assessment of reducing taxes levied on exports, assessment of increasing taxes on imported luxury items, submission of authorised bank statements and taking legal action against companies that try to cheat with bank statements.
Similar meetings will be held regularly every week, it is learnt.— Myanmar News Agency

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar

Twelve local and foreign enterprises permitted to invest US$86.531million

A total of 12 local and foreign enterprises have received permission to invest US$86.531million in Myanmar, according to a meeting held by the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) on 17th December.
Six local investment businesses and six foreign businesses were permitted to make investments in Myanmar, according to a Myanmar Investment Commission meeting held on 19th December.
Out of 12 permitted enterprises, most of them will invest in garment enterprises. The foreign investments are from China, Hong Kong and South Korea, said U Aung Naing Oo, the director-general of DICA.
The permitted six foreign enterprises will make investments of US$24.560million in the industrial enterprises, creating 4,201 job opportunities, it is learnt.
Meanwhile, six local enterprises are permitted to invest US$61.971million in two industrial enterprises, one real estate development project, two hotels and tourism projects and one service business, creating 1,195 jobs.
Myanmar Investment Commission approves the investments proposals only after making assessments of the proposals to check if they meet the set criteria: creating job opportunities, increasing revenue, ensuring prevention from environmental impact etc.
There are a total of 78 foreign enterprises with investments of US$2,146.934million and 37 Myanmar Citizen investment projects with investments of US$518.506million as of 19th December in this fiscal year.

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar

Fourth telco hoping to get licence for Christmas

​The director of one of 11 local firms that will form part of Myanmar’s long-awaited fourth telecom operator says the consortium will receive its telecoms licence next week.

Mobile phone sales have soared in Myanmar as the three existing telco firms have expanded operations. Aung Khant/ The Myanmar Times
A year has passed since the government announced a tender for a fourth operator, which Vietnam defence ministry owned-firm Viettel won through dint of being the only one to submit its proposal by the deadline.
The company joined with a consortium of 11 local firms called Myanmar National Telecom Holding Public, and a subsidiary of military-run Myanmar Economic Corporation called Star High Public Company.

U Zaw Min Oo, a director of Myanmar Technologies and Investment Corporation – one of the 11 local firms – told The Myanmar Times this week that he expects the telco to receive its licence on December 21.

“The ministry is arranging to provide the telecom license on that day in Nay Pyi Taw,” he said, adding that he could not share any further details of the new firm.

U Zaw Min Oo said in October that senior management positions have been filled, with a Viettel 

official taking the chief executive position.

The new telco will hold a press conference in Yangon on December 23 after receiving the licence, he told The Myanmar Times this week.

U Myo Swe, deputy director of the Posts and Telecommunications Department under the Ministry of Transport and Communication, said on December 13 that the ministry was in the “final stage” of giving the licence.

‘“Currently, we are discussing the license template and when this process finishes we will give the licence,” he said.

The new telco join state-owned incumbent MPT, and established foreign firms Telenor and Ooredoo in the competition for customers. Although senior executives at the three existing telcos have said that with the rate at which firms are adding customers slowing, competition will shift towards data services.

Source : Myanmar Times

Tourism investment up despite drop in visitors

Tourists and Myanmar visitors watch the sun set from the top of a temple at Bagan. Photo: Staff

The number of foreign travelers visiting in Myanmar is down on 2015, but foreign investment in the tourist sector shows a 15 percent increase, according to data from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. Although officials caution that investment decisions should be based on the right data.

Ministry data shows that as of the end of September this year 3.1 million tourists had visited the country, compared with 3.3 million over the same period in 2015.

But that has not stopped the potential for Myanmar tourism attracting US$3 billion in foreign investment across 56 projects as of the end of November, according to U Myint Htwe, director of the tourism ministry.

“That’s up from $2.6 billion across 48 projects in 2015, which [in dollar value] is an increase of over 15pc,” he told The Myanmar Times. By country of origin, Thailand is the “biggest investor in tourism this year, while United Arab Emirates was the smallest investors”, he added.

The country has increased the number of hotel rooms available for tourists from 9132 at the end of 2015 to 11207 at the end of November, ministry data showed.

But some travel industry operators are worried that investors and tourism entrepreneurs are basing investment decisions on bad data. Analysts have been questioning how Myanmar compiles its tourism data for years, because the majority of foreign visitors recorded are day trippers arriving by land from China or Thailand.

Of the 3.3 million visitors that had visited by the end of September 2015, only 1.1 million arrived by international airport or port, according to tourism ministry data. As of the end of September this year, the number of border-crossing visitors was the same – 2.2 million – but the number of international arrivals was down to 900,000.

The total number of tourist reported in 2015 was 4.68 million, a figure that the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) accepted. But U Ohn Maung, Minister for Hotels and Tourism, said at a recent forum on sustainable tourism that this number was the wrong figure for hotel investors to look at.

The minister was speaking at a Sustainable Tourism Development forum in Taw Win Garden hotel in Yangon on December 7.

“When the investors extend hotel projects based on this data, they [risk] losses because the real tourist number is more [like] 1.2 million visitors last year,” he said. “That’s why we intend to release the right figures such as how many real tourists visited and how many are day return trippers across the border,” U Ohn Maung said.

Tourism ministry director U Myo Win Nyunt said previously that the ministry will reconsider the system for country tourist arrivals, and intends to release the new data once every two months.

But despite the actual number of tourists being far lower than the data suggests, the tourism and hotel industry remains in need of investment in human resources and skilled labour, said U Ohn Maung.

“We are planning to development human resources by cooperating with the education department and open vocational training schools,” he said. “We have already trained around 10,000 people within the first nine months this year and that program is continuing.”

U Ohn Maung also expects a 35pc increase in visitors from Singapore following the start of a visa exemption program between the two countries on December 1.

“I do expect an increase in Singaporeans travellers if we successfully promote the variety of tourist attractions Myanmar has to offer,” he said. “Myanmar is safe, excellent to travel in the whole year round, and Myanmar food is certainly something to come back for over and over again.”

Over 100,000 visitors from Myanmar travelled to Singapore last year, but only 40,000 visitors from Singapore arrived in Myanmar.

“It is not fair in terms of tourism,” said Daw May Myat Mon Win, chair of the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Committee. “From the very beginning many Myanmar people go to Singapore for a variety of reasons such as study, job opportunity, medical treatment and leisure. Many more people will go with the visa exemption, so we have to promote our tourism [industry] to attract travelers into Myanmar.”

The imbalance exists between countries, but this also gives Myanmar a lot of potential, she said. More than 200,000 people from Myanmar visited Thailand last year, while only around 150,000 Thai visitors came to Myanmar, said Daw May Myat Mon Win.

“That’s why the [Myanmar tourism] market is a attractive,” she said.

Source :Myanmar Times

China eyes high speed railway as part of One Belt, One Road strategy

​A superfast railway will connect Myanmar’s cities, cutting the journey time from Muse, Shan State, to Yangon to one hour. That was the claim made by China’s consul general in a recent meeting in Mandalay.

Bicyclists cross railway tracks on the outskirts of Yangon. Photo: AFP

Wang Zongying was discussing China’s One Belt One Road project, which is intended to link China to the countries of Asia, and which would have particular implications for Myanmar. Work has already begun on the rail link that is to connect Ruili, in Yunnan province, to Thailand via Lashio, Mandalay, Yangon and Mawlamyine, said Mr Wang. He was speaking at Mandalay’s Pu Jin Chinese temple on November 27.

“This will be an Asian continental railroad that will connect Kunming and Ruili in Yunnan province with Thailand and Malaysia via Myanmar. Work has already begun on the rail link between Kunming and Ruili, and work is proceeding on the Lu Zen tunnel,” said Mr Wang.

“We want to connect Southeast Asia with a trans-Asia railroad that will go as far as Indonesia and Singapore, and we look forward to cooperation from the countries concerned,” he told The Myanmar Times. China was devoting great attention to questions of cost, he said.

He told the audience that the train would eventually reach a speed of 350kph, cutting the journey time from Muse to Yangon to an hour.

China-Myanmar Friendship Association chair U Poe Myint said the One Belt One Road project could bring China and Southeast Asia closer together, stimulating trade, creating jobs and developing the economy.

The project eventually envisages extending as far as Australia, Russia and Europe.

Mr Wang said the governments concerned had been gathering information and negotiating for the past three years. “The first success was the railway that connects China and Pakistan. There are also pipelines and railways that connect Russia and Central Asia that are already in operation. There is progress in the discussions with Australia and New Zealand, and an agreement with Malaysia to build a harbour, and with Thailand to dig a canal.”

Translation by Win Thaw Tar and San Layy

Source : Myanmar Times

Yangon-Mandalay railway upgrading to be put out for bids in Japan

A locomotive running on a railway-track bieng seen. Photo: Phoe Khwar

Tenders to upgrade the Yangon-Mandalay railway will be open for bids in early 2017 in Japan, said U Tun Aung Thin, a general manager from Myanma Railway (Lower Myanmar office).

Upgrading of this railway track is slated to be completed in the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The aim of putting out tender bids in Japan is to invite experienced companies from Japan who will build the tracks to meet international criteria. This project will be provided by the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA).

There are three different railway routes that are part of the upgrading project on the Yangon-Mandalay railway: Yangon-Toungoo, Toungoo-Yamethin and Yamethin-Mandalay. The estimated cost of the project is about US$1,700million. Under the first phase, the upgrading of the Yangon-Toungoo railway track will be carried out, with an estimated cost of US$200million.

After the whole project is completed, the Yangon-Mandalay rail journey is expected to take eight hours, it is learnt.—200

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar