Myanmar is in the process of developing, updating and improving its transport infrastructure. At a recent conference organised by the British Chamber of Commerce Myanmar and Baker McKenzie, the international law firm, various options were discussed.
The conference, called “Myanmar: Moving Ahead Perspectives on Developing Transportation Infrastructure”, was held in Yangon on 26 May with the aim of discussing the challenges facing Myanmar’s transport sector.
At the conference, experts advised that Myanmar adopt a PPP (public-private partnership) model in order to expedite the development.
A number of subjects were discussed at the conference, including appropriate PPP frameworks and the finance and structure of various projects, including roads, ports and railways.
Transport is a key area of focus for the government when it comes to economic development and success in the future. U Kyaw Myo, Deputy Minister for Transport and Communication was at the event and reiterated the importance of Myanmar’s transport infrastructure, particularly in terms of creating jobs and trade opportunities with other nations.
Flexibility is key
Jo Daniels, Managing Partner for Baker McKenzie led the way in recommendations for the development of the transport infrastructure in Myanmar. She said: “It is important for Myanmar to be flexible in the approach to public-private partnerships, as different forms of PPPs may be better-suited to different transport projects.
Discussion also centred on best practice in PPPs, and the necessity of carrying out stringent feasibility research in order to adopt the best model for the project. PPPs are set up between private companies and government agencies and are ideal to finance large projects including road network projects and transport systems.
Yangon Bus Public Company
A working example of a PPP is the Yangon Bus Public Company (YBPC), which originally benefitted from K2.5million from private companies and K10 million from the government. The government also planned to use a similar PPP to run the whole Yangon Bus System, although this hasn’t yet happened.
Transport is just one sector in which Myanmar’s government intends to set up PPPs to regenerate the economy. For a PPP to be successful, the government needs to be selective about the model. It needs to be the most suitable for the needs of Myanmar, and also meet all of the necessary regulations.
Some regulations will have to be reformed and modernised, but this is no different from other sectors in Myanmar. U Htun Aung Thin, general manager for Myanmar Railways said at the conference: “We need to form the best PPP model and implement an operational framework which best match the current economic landscape. Doing so will be beneficial to us.”
He also talked about the need to modernise infrastructure and upgrade technology: “For example, in railroad transport, we need to use electric-powered trains to reduce air pollution and transport costs. These are very important so we need to implement the reforms.”
There was a strong emphasis on the need to communicate and collaborate for both private and public sectors when it comes to meeting the challenges of developing these infrastructure projects.
Martin David, representing Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow in Singapore, said: “I believe the government of Myanmar is approaching the country’s infrastructure needs in the right way by investing time and effort now to develop the right foundation upon which future infrastructure can develop in collaboration with the private sector.