September 16, 2013 00:00 By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
KAN ZAW, Myanmar's minister of national planning and economic development, said last week that the government's medium- and long-term reforms would ensure the creation of an investment-friendly climate and keep up with Asean and international norms and
Virasak Sutanthavibul, senior executive vice president of Bangkok Bank, said the Myanmar government should consider liberalising the financial industry so that foreign banks can form joint ventures with local banks, as 95 per cent of transactions are in cash.
Foreign banks and financial institutions are only allowed to set up representative offices in the country. The opening of the industry could be done gradually, such as by allowing joint ventures and later branches, Virasak said.
At the Myanmar Global Investment Forum held at the Myanmar International Convention Centre in Nay Pyi Taw, Kan Zaw said that under Myanmar’s framework for social and economic reform, 10 areas are indicated and some have already produced results.
The framework focuses on potential “quick wins” within five years in fiscal and tax structures, monetary and financial systems, trade and investment, private sector development, health and education, food security and agricultural growth, governance and transparency, mobile phones and Internet, infrastructure, and effective and efficient government.
The government has also laid down four economic policy objectives for its first five-year plan – sustaining agriculture development towards industrialisation and all-round development, balanced and proportionate development among regions and states, inclusive growth for the entire population and quality of statistics and statistical systems.
“Based on policy and framework, we have formulated the first five-year plan (2011-16) targeted towards ‘People Centred Devel-opment’, and long-term National Comprehensive Development Plan (2011-31). With four pillars of reforms – political, economic, public administration and private sector development, the country is speeding up to reach its goals within the time period,” he said.
“The vision of our government is to become a modern, democratic and developed nation that meets the aspirations of its people through People Centred Development,” he said.
For the remaining 30 months, the government is giving its priority to basic infrastructure and public utilities, such as electricity, telecom, public transport, drinking water, job creation, labour intensive agro-based industries, and the hotel and tourism industry.
There has been significant foreign direct investment in the hotel and tourism industry, as well as real estate, due to the improved investment environment. The open door policy drastically changed the business environment for the private sector. It creates more job opportunities, better systems for public utilities, education and healthcare and uplifts the living standard in urban areas.
Myanmar is developing special economic zones in three areas – Dawei, Thilawa and Kyauk Phyu – for international investors and multinational companies as developers and partners. In the long run, Myanmar is embarking on two poles – Yangon and Mandalay – with growth centres in most regional capitals.
The government has set long-term goals for urban development – establishing the National Spatial Development Planning System, establishing an integrated, sustainable and resilient network system that will lead to balanced development and the sustainable allocation of investment and financial resources, and upgrading of the organisational and legal set-up of development institutions.
The Myanmar National Spatial Development Plan will support and materialise the National Comprehensive Deve-lopment Plan. Urban land use will be integrated in the National Comprehensive Land Use Plan to systematically allocate reserved land for future urban development. An integrated urban network system will be developed through surveys and analysis of the socioeconomic potential of individual urban centres. Resilience of the urban centres and the urban network system will be built up. And spatial development planning policies and guidelines will be drawn up for national, regional and state levels.