Myanmar’s government has announced that a new incarnation of the Myanmar Investment Commission will be created this month. Htet Tayza comments.
The nine-member Myanmar Investment Commission was disbanded by the government in March 2016. Comprised of business people, ministers and senior officials, the government-appointed body assessed and approved large-scale investments. No new investments have been approved since March and currently, there are 50 local and 48 foreign proposals waiting for appraisal.
These proposals will be assessed by the new Myanmar Investment Commission, which the previous body’s Secretary U Aung Naing Oo has announced will be formed in June 2016. Speaking to the Myanmar Times, a national news agency, the Secretary said that even though the Commission will appoint new members, its policies for investment applications and approvals will remain the same.
Commenting further, U Aung Naing Oo said: “It will not take so long to form the new Commission, perhaps within a week or two. So far the format has not been changed. But some details are currently being debated by our seniors so we do not have all the information yet.” These details will be finalised when the government passes the Myanmar Investment Law (MIL).
A combination of the Foreign Investment Law and the Myanmar Citizens Investment Law, the MIL is in its draft phase. When it is passed the MIL may allow the Commission, which formerly answered to the President’s office, to become independent. This independence would be welcomed by many, the Myanmar Times points out, as it would reduce the potential for conflicts of interest.
The MIC is also expected to relax some restrictions on business, as well as contain provisions to support foreign investment activity. U Aung Naing Oo commented in 2015 that until the MIL is written into law, outdated guidelines on forming joint venture companies in Myanmar could put foreign businesses at a distinct disadvantage.
Drawing foreign investment
Myanmar’s government is committed to attracting new foreign direct investment (FDI), in order to facilitate economic growth. In a 2015 report, the International Monetary Fund’s Mission Chief for Myanmar, Yongzheng Yang suggested that “with continued economic reforms and FDI, the country’s economic prospects look favourable.” During the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year, approved foreign investment hit a new height of US$9.4bn and Myanmar has recently announced an ambitious new FDI target.
In order to reach this goal, it is critical that Myanmar develops a business environment which welcomes foreign investors. The upcoming creation of a new Myanmar Investment Commission and any loosening of restrictions will only help and ensure foreign investors gain the government approval that they need to trade more easily.