Business / Trade

The Myanmar Gems Enterprise will hold the year’s first and only jade sale exclusively for local traders in Naypyidaw this December, with industry players hoping to see more purchases of raw jade and jadeite made with value-added intentions.

Cross-border trade between Thailand and Burma through the Mae Sot-Myawaddy checkpoint totalled more than 60 billion in the fiscal year just ended, a rise of 12.3 percent over the 2013-2014 year, a senior customs official said on Thursday.

Factory workers expecting a raise yesterday with their first paycheque since the minimum wage was implemented at the beginning of the month were disappointed to find their take-home income largely remained the same. To afford the higher payroll expenses – in some cases shelling out as much as four-and-a-half times above what entry-level workers were previously paid – factory bosses slashed bonuses and stopped allowing overtime hours.

Myanmar ranked near the bottom of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2015-16 released yesterday, placing 131st overall out of 140.

As domestic rice prices increase, cheaper and higher quality rice is now being illegally imported from Thailand, Myanmar rice traders say.

The Myanmar-European Union investment protection agreement could be ready as soon as the beginning of 2016, according to U Aung Naing Oo, director general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

As Myanmar prepares itself for historic elections in November, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) encourages voters to “vote for change”, a slogan that has left investors worried about what that would mean for their businesses.

A delegation of some 80 US business representatives is set to arrive in Rangoon late this year, according to an official from Burma’s chamber of commerce, on the heels of a landmark general election to be held in November.

Global Eagle Entertainment Inc., a worldwide provider of aircraft connectivity systems, operations solutions and media content to the travel industry, announced it has signed an agreement to deliver a broad range of content aboard Myanmar National Airlines (MNA) flights, according to a press release from the company on 28 September.

Businessperson U Khin Hlaing is no stranger to controversy. A well-known entrepreneur, he currently sits on Yangon City Development Committee, but spoke to Zay Yar Lin about throwing his hat into the ring to sit in the Pyithu Hluttaw from Yangon’s Kyeemyindaing township. Known as an outspoken politician, he was vocal in opposing four property developments near Shwedagon Pagoda earlier in 2015.

What are the prospects for developing the local economy and encouraging foreign investment after the election?

Speaking from a businessperson’s point of view, Myanmar needs to make many changes from its current situation. Foreign investment entering Myanmar depends on political stability and strong economic policy set by the new government. But the government also needs to protect the interests of locals when foreign investment enters, as well as the foreign investment.

The new government needs to be a government that can make good laws to protect both sides, and implement better policies to help the business sector develop. If not, foreign direct investment or anyone else entering Myanmar will see losses – and local businesspeople also will as well.

Businesspeople have been saying in seminars that Myanmar’s economy is slowing, and business is not in a good condition at the moment. Many are blaming this on the election. Is this right?

All people know the business situation was good from 2010 to 2013, with the current government taking office in 2010, but the situation deteriorated a little in 2014 and 2015. Unsuccessful projects are beginning to appear when the government reached its third and fourth year, though there was success until the third year. There has been currency speculation, based on the government’s moves in business.

Everyone knows the current economic situation is slowing. To recover, it is necessary there is political stability as well as other facts. But it is a bit too early to say exactly what the main facts are to recover the situation. We will be able to see these more clearly when the new government takes office in 2016.

If you are elected to the hluttaw, what is your first priority regarding economic development, as an experienced businessperson?

It is necessary to have political stability as well as rule of law to develop the economy. Laws need to be steadfast and applied without exception, and legal action must be taken on offenders. If everyone follows the rules and regulations, there is no doubt the country’s economy will be successful. But there needs to be mutual trust between the government and the people. The government needs to be a real government that is happy to work for the interests of people, as well as creating fair economic competition.

The state needs to also protect the interests of both employers and employees. These cases can only be successfully pursued when the laws are stable. If not, don’t think the economy will be better when a new government takes power.

Election campaigns like to say that “change” is needed. What kind of change? What would people like to see?

This is a difficult situation. But people always hope for something better, regardless as to whether it is a new government. People hope for the best when a leader takes office. People should continue with their work whatever government takes office.

A state needs to create management, a taxation system and a social security net … but the main core is to depend on oneself. So people need to select [a politican] who supports them. From my point of view, I would like people to emphasise the municipal election rather than the upcoming general election.

What kind of challenges do you face as you contest the election?

I have no particular challenge with the election, but I am busy with work as a [YCDC official]. As you know, this is a busy job, and it leaves me with little time to canvass voters.

I will pursue my strategies … I don’t canvass too much to get votes. If I am selected, I won’t stop as a hluttaw representative. If I am not included as a decision-maker, I will come back to contest the Yangon City Development Committee election in February 2016, if I don’t believe the current hluttaw. I don’t want to waste my time just saying words.

I understand there are more than 90 political parties contesting the upcoming election. As a well-known person, how will you contest the election as an independent, without joining a political party?

In all the elections I have contest – 2010, 2012 and 2015 – I have done so as an independent candidate, as it allows voters to vividly see the ability of a person. Independent candidates are under the influence of the people, not a political party. People know I stand by the people.
I didn’t become an independent because I was rejected by a party. I chose to be an independent candidate to contest Kyeemyindaing township in the Pyithu Hluttaw.

Regarding my performance, people can see that I have done a lot in the last six or seven months since I was elected as a YCDC member.

On the question of voting for local candidates or political parties, which do you think is right?

Both are right. From the side of the political party, it has the benefit of being able to establish a government – but we don’t know the quality of a person. I don’t want to see a situation where parliamentarians just raise their hands in the hluttaw along with everyone else.

While there should be different views in a political party, all need to follow the path that their party sets.

Moreover, political party leaders need to allow for freedom of thought among their followers and open up ways to develop their performance.

It is also very difficult to remove a person from a political party if his or her quality deteriorates when reaching the hluttaw. Though it is easy to remove a person from a political party, it is difficult to remove a person from parliament. So, the answer of whether voters should select the candidate or the party is up to the voter. But, for me, selecting a person is right.

Government representatives have agreed with factory owners and workers to amend labour laws and review standard terms in employment contracts, according to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Securities, The Global New Light of Myanmar reported on 29 September.

Resources firms led a sell-off in Asian markets Tuesday following painful losses across Europe and New York as fears about the impact of China’s slowing growth on the global economy burst back into view.

The family of a 12-year old killed when a tailing pond at a mine site collapsed and flooded a village will be paid compensation by the site operators, local sources said.

The disclosure documents necessary to list on the forthcoming Yangon Stock Exchange have now been released.

Companies intending to list can pick up the documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar’s offices, an official said yesterday.

The Coca-Cola system in Myanmar has actively led relief and rebuilding efforts since early-August, when heavy seasonal rains and Cyclone Komen caused flooding and landslides in 12 of Myanmar’s 14 states and regions, the company reported on its website on 28 September.

Last week, Myanmar officials wore big smiles at the official launch of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone.

They were jubilant that, at last, the nation has its first international-standard SEZ, equipped with all the infrastructure a major business needs – electricity, water supply and port facilities. The project is a joint endeavour, and much of the credit must go to the three Japanese business groups involved – Sumitomo, Marubeni and Mitsubishi.

Fighting in early July 2015 between soldiers from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army and government troops along the Asia Highway, not only forced villagers from their homes, but caused them to lose most of their household belongings and food supplies when fleeing the conflict.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) must cooperate so that true peace can be achieved according to a statement issued by the Burma Southeast Region Civil Society Organizations (BSERCSOs) conference.

The results are in for local tech hub Phandeeyar’s #MaePaySoh hack challenge, an elections app competition that saw more than 100 of Burma’s best and brightest software developers battle it out for big prizes.

Burma’s state-owned Myanma Petroleum Products Enterprise (MPPE) has agreed to a joint venture with Puma Energy Group Pte Ltd to distribute jet fuel, the state-owned Myanma Alinn daily reported on Saturday.

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