Dec 19, 2014

MIC to take action against foreign investment registering locally

A crackdown is coming to foreign investment circumventing rules by registering under the names of Myanmar citizens.

For the full story by Myanmar Times, please click HERE

Myanmar uses pop-up power to meet growing energy demand

There are no cooling towers or huge turbine halls, just neat lines of white shipping containers.

Myanmar's unusual new power plant is made up of 67 containers, delivering enough electricity for the modest demands of about six million people.

It's a quick and flexible way to get "fast track" power generation up and running in a country that is desperately short of electricity.

Jonah Fisher went to see how it works in practice. For the full story, please click HERE

Dec 18, 2014

EU to Grant Myanmar €700 Million to Boost Economic Transition

The European Union announced that it would grant Myanmar almost 700 million euros in development aid over the next seven years. The money is aimed to boost the country’s economic transition from militia-led isolation to an independent and confident international player. The announcement of this package came after U.S. President Barack Obama said last month that Myanmar’s transition was not progressing but rather backsliding in some sectors, such as human rights and press freedom.

Brussels said that the country would receive the funding from 2014 to 2020 to “reinforce support to the country’s multiple transition” including efforts to stabilize its economy and promote peace. Myanmar is home to about 16 major rebel groups out of which 14 signed ceasefire deals with the quasi-civilian government as part of reform efforts in recent years. Yet, some of these deals, such as those with the Kachin Independence Army in northern Kachin state and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army in eastern Shan, have proved highly problematic. In addition to peace building, the EU wants its funding to develop rural areas and support agriculture including improving food supplies, nutrition, while also providing support for education, good governance, and the rule of law. “With this support over the next seven years, the EU will build on its ongoing initiatives for the benefit of all people in Myanmar,” the official EU statement added.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was ruled by the British until 1948 but was later isolated by a military regime that took control of the country in 1962. Myanmar has been implementing extensive reforms for three years, which has earned Naypyidaw international praise and the removal of most sanctions that had been imposed on the country since early 1990s. The current leadership, however, remains to be headed by former generals and military personnel, though many political prisoners have also been freed, and the support for democratic transition has been allowed. For instance, Aung San Suu Kyi, an opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy, managed to get elected into the parliament while the new quasi-civilian government put an end to media censorship.

Despite the pro-democratic efforts, some of the country’s controversial practices and laws have not yet been uprooted. For instance, Mrs Suu Kyi cannot run for President because her late husband was British. According to the constitutional clause 59f, those with a foreign spouse or children cannot stand for this position. President Obama addressed this controversial law saying “the amendment process needs to reflect inclusion rather than exclusion”.

Source: EU Bulletin

Natural Gas Exports Up 22 percent

Myanmar earned $2.64 billion from natural gas exports in 2014-15 fiscal year as of November 14, up $585.06 million than the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Myanmar exports its natural gas to neighbouring Thailand and China. Gas exports to Thailand started in 1999, and have since grown to consume 70 percent of the total production in Myanmar.

Gas exports to China began in 2013, originating from a pipeline from the controversial Shwe Gas project in Rakhine state along with one that runs from Kyaukphyu in Rakhine to Kunming province in China.

According to the Ministry of Commerce’s statistics, a total of 45 gas stations – 40 in Yangon, two in Mandalay and three in Magway – are supplying 27,755 registered natural gas fuelled vehicles in Myanmar of which 26,835 are in Yangon region.

In Myanmar, 24-hour gas stations are distributing 18 to 21 cubic feet of natural gas on average per day for vehicle use.

The government has encouraged the consumption of natural gas for vehicles in August by constructing natural gas distribution stations and issuing licences to vehicles allowing use of gas for fuel as part of the plan to cut gasoline and diesel consumption.

Source: Myanmar Business Today

Dec 17, 2014

MIIL Raises Nearly $4 Million for More Myanmar Investments

Myanmar Investments International Ltd (MIIL), an AIM-quoted Myanmar focused investment company, said it has raised $3.79 million through a share subscription by some existing shareholders to use it for further investments in Myanmar and for general working capital.

The firm raised $3,797,850 via a subscription of 3,617,000 new ordinary shares at a subscription price of $1.05 per share.

“The company is looking at a number of potential investment opportunities in Myanmar in, for example the manufacturing, healthcare, education and telecommunications sectors,” it said in a bourse announcement.

MIIL said that it has also issued warrants in the ratio of one subscription warrant for every one ordinary share subscribed for as part of the Subscription.

Source: Myanmar Business Today

Dec 16, 2014

Yoma Strategic receives S$131m loan from ADB for Myanmar investments

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday (Dec 16) approved the loan of up to US$100 million (S$131 million) to Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings to aid in the improvement of infrastructure in Myanmar.

The ADB loan will meet the gap for long-term commercial debt for infrastructure designed to enhance connectivity, according to the joint ADB-Yoma press release. It will be disbursed in two tranches, with Yoma Strategic engaging partner companies to work with it on individual infrastructure sub-projects.

The first tranche will be used to build telecommunication towers, develop cold storage logistics, and modernise vehicle fleet leasing; the second will fund sub-projects in transportation, distribution, logistics and other sectors.

Mr Christopher Thieme, a Director in ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department, said: “Investment in connectivity infrastructure is a key factor in creating better access to economic opportunities, reducing costs, promoting trade, and attracting private investment into diverse geographic areas and sectors.

"ADB is delighted to be supporting this important work with Yoma Strategic that will help acceleration of Myanmar's growth.”

According to the press release, Myanmar is one of the least-connected countries in the world in terms of telecommunication, transportation and logistics. For instance, the road density in Myanmar is less than one fifth the average in ASEAN countries. The country’s inland waterways network, which is important for freight traffic, is also underutilised due to an ageing fleet of vessels and neglected ports facilities, it added.

Yoma in October announced it had clinched the franchise to open the first KFC fast food restaurant in Myanmar. It also has property, agriculture, tourism, automative and retail business in the country.

Source: Channel NewsAsia

Dec 15, 2014

IFC Myanmar investment to rise to $1 bln in three years

Investment by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Myanmar is expected to rise to $1 billion over the next three years as it supports the development of the private sector, the backbone of growth and job creation, it said on Friday.

"Building business-enabling infrastructure and expanding access to finance are critical to reviving Myanmar's private sector, which will generate much-needed jobs and economic opportunities," Vivek Pathak, the IFC's director for Asia Pacific, said in a statement.

The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said its focus would be on sectors such as power, telecommunications and transport. Only about 30 percent of households in Myanmar have access to electricity.

The IFC said its investment portfolio was expected to reach about $400 million for the 2015 fiscal year, ending on June 30, 2015, up from $92 million as of November 2014.

"Investments are expected to further rise to $1 billion over the next three years," it said.

It said that on the regulatory level, a focus during this fiscal year would be on supporting Myanmar's central bank to develop at least one credit bureau by June 2016.

That would allow "lenders to access borrowers' credit history, better evaluate loan risks, and thereby extending loans more quickly and on a larger scale than currently where too little information makes banks reluctant to lend".

Source: Reuters