Htet Tayza discusses recent statements made by Myanmar’s new finance chief, where he suggested that he would make it his priority to ensure his country records impressive economic growth.
The National League for Democracy’s U Kyaw Win was recently named as his party’s choice for Union Planning and Finance Minister. Regional news outlet Asia Times reports that Win has given an interview to national newspaper The Myanmar Times, where he stated what policies he will adopt.
The Finance Minister said that developing Myanmar’s economic growth will be his priority. Win added that he will also focus on achieving a number of other goals, including enforcing taxation, improving Myanmar’s financial sector and aiding rural development during his time in office. The Finance Minister suggested that these policies will serve as the key to facilitating economic expansion.
Facilitating economic growth
Explaining in more detail, Win said: “Given the current economic climate, we are unlikely to see falling growth, but it is difficult to assess the rate of development because we lack detailed data. But we must try as hard as we can because we don’t have much time.”
Win added that agriculture and livestock, which serve as the foundations of Myanmar’s economy, have faced increasing challenges over the past five years. Explaining how he will address these issues, the Finance Minister commented: “If we can draw up a strategic plan for rural development, the economy will develop rapidly over the next few years.
“But there are no job opportunities for rural people, and many have flocked to the cities, exacerbating the problem with illegal residents. That’s why we need to promote manufacturing through rural development in order to boost exports.” U Kyaw Win also pledged to launch a review of Myanmar’s tax system, including exemptions. However, he added “that doesn’t mean a tax increase. But extensive exemptions from tax mean big losses for the country.”
Tapping economic potential
Economically speaking, Myanmar has huge potential. Regional development organisation the Asia Development Bank (ADB) recently predicted that Myanmar’s economy could expand by 8.4% in the next fiscal year, after declining by 7.2% throughout the year before. Speaking about Myanmar’s economic potential, ADB Country Director in Myanmar Winifried Wicklein said:
“Though economic reforms implemented since 2011 have had positive outcomes, Myanmar’s new government will face the challenges of advancing economic reform, addressing infrastructure and labour shortages, and making progress towards peace and social cohesion… Moreover, intensified efforts are needed to connect and develop rural areas to improve access to markets and services, and to generate opportunities and jobs.”
In light of Wicklein’s comments, U Kyaw Win’s decision to focus on aiding rural development seems prudent, as it plays to Myanmar’s economic strengths. The ADB’s report on Myanmar’s economic potential indicates that if the country finds ways to connect and develop rural areas, it could capitalise on its lucrative agriculture and livestock sectors, to facilitate robust economic growth.