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Thin economic policy may lead to vague actions, Myanmar businesses say


ALTHOUGH Myanmar revealed its long-awaited economic policy last Friday, concerns of the business community are not yet over.

Maung Maung Lay, vice president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and managing director of Ni Lay Naing Co, also demands further details.
“It is better late than never. But the policy is too general. Businesses want to know more details. Everybody wants to ensure profits.
“We need to decide which tactics we will have to play in this market. Without concrete policies, we do not know how to play,” he said.
The policy was announced months after the newly elected government took office in April.
Maung Maung Lay urged the government to focus on access to funding of companies operating in priority areas like agribusiness, livestock and manufacturing.
Other areas of focus are how to increase national export income, raise the production of value-added products and explore new markets for business expansion.
All the principles need to demonstrate the government’s political will as well as protect stakeholders’ interests.
“We need cooperation from all parties. For this, the government must uphold transparency.
“I heard that a lot of media outlets were denied access to the government’s policy launch event. Media play a crucial role here in spreading the word, and the authorities should realise that,” he said.
Only media personnel from state-run newspapers and Skynet, a television station close to the government, were allowed to attend the event, where State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivered an opening speech.
Soe Tun, vice president of the Myanmar Rice Federation and chief executive of Farmer Auto Showroom, said the policy could not reveal exactly where the government is heading.
“The policy was drawn to cover every corner. It really looks nice in words. But in reality, it will be |pretty hard to implement without concrete action plans,” he said. “For the time being, it is really hard to [say] whether the policy is good or bad.”
Everyone needs to wait and see what policies will be prioritised. During this time, business will prefer waiting before making an investment, he said.
Economist George Soe Win said he sincerely doubted the effectiveness of the policy plans.
“Most of them are not new. We cannot find any specific plans for economic transformation. We have heard a lot on the export-oriented and job creation policies.
“We do need specific strategies to boost strategic sectors,” he said.
He noted that Finance and Planning Minister Kyaw Win frequently talked about plans to enhance the access to funding of small and medium-sized enterprises, but to date there has been no change.
“Only a very limited number of SMEs have managed to tap loans although there are more than 100,000 SMEs in our country,” he added.
The 12-point policy focuses on improving sources of finance, improving the performance of state-owned enterprises, corporatisation of SOEs and supporting SMEs.
It includes developing human resources and vocational training, improving basic infrastructure and the e-government system, creating job opportunities, implementing a business model that strikes a balance between agriculture and industry and promoting foreign direct investment and citizen investment.
It will work on maintaining financial stability, improving public places and maintaining cultural heritage, increasing national income by establishing a balanced tax system, enhancing innovations by protecting intellectual-property rights and encouraging the establishment of businesses to catch up with the developments of other countries.

Published : August 02, 2016

By : KHINE KYAW MYANMAR ELEVEN