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Burmese investment laws for foreign to open up

Burmese investment laws for foreign to open up

Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Burmese government says that foreign investments that operate in the name of Burmese citizens must be transformed into a legal foreign investment, and the government is preparing laws that will create a more favourable business climate.

The Burmese government says investment laws will be revised to make a more favorable climate for foreign-controlled businesses in the names of Burmese citizens. This file photo shows downtown Rangoon. Photo: Mizzima
The Burmese government says investment laws will be revised to make a more favorable climate for foreign-controlled businesses in the names of Burmese citizens. This file photo shows downtown Rangoon. Photo: Mizzima
Aung Naing Oo, the deputy director of the National Planning and Economic Development Ministry, said that the government would enact laws for foreign investments in the name of Burmese citizens made since 1988. It will also offer businesses incentives.

“To attract foreign investments, we will find loopholes in the foreign investment laws to be modified to make the laws flexible. We will create a favourable condition. Now we are modifying the laws and they will be enacted soon,” Aung Naing Oo told Mizzima. He did not disclose how many businesses operate in the name of Burmese citizens but are controlled by foreigners.

The government will introduce the changes because foreign-controlled businesses in the name of Burmese citizens could harm the investment policy and the national interests in the future, Aung Naing Oo said.

He said that notifications to revoke some investment laws would be declared soon. New laws will be introduced in Parliament for approval by lawmakers, he said.

Among the proposed changes, said Aung Naing Oo, would be to allow privately owned land to be rented by foreigners, and the removal of some restrictions in exchanging foreign currencies.  Currently, foreigners can only rent government-owned land.

The authorities announced the new policy in a meeting with Burmese business owners at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) office in Rangoon.

UMFCCI Vice Chairman Hla Maung Shwe said that one of the causes of low foreign investment in Burma are the existing foreign investment laws that set the currency exchange rate at just six kyat per one US dollar and other restrictions.

“The main obstacle for them is the existing [official] exchange rate of six kyat per one dollar. The second weak point is that the government could not fulfill its promises to some investments. There are restrictions. If we modify the regulations, the situation will improve,” Hla Maung Shwe told Mizzima.

If the government changes the relevant laws and allows foreign companies to do business more freely, foreign investments will increase and the country will be able to adopt technologies and promote its exports, creating more job opportunities, he said.

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