The press conference on the third-year journey of the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Planning and Finance, and the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations answered to reporters in the Ministry of Information’s meeting hall in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.
Ministry of Commerce
Deputy Minister U Aung Htoo said his ministry’s main objective is to promote domestic and foreign trade and its primary objective is to increase national export, and the incumbent government aims to increase the current number by thrice the amount during their term in office.
He said the trade sector generated USD33.538 billion during the 2017-2018 FY and USD18.679 billion in 2018’s mini budget period and has generated USD21.198 billion as of 10 May for the 2018-2019 FY. Exports generated USD14.850 billion for 2017-2018 FY and USD8.821 billion for 2018’s mini budget period while generating USD10.146 billion as of 10 May for 2018-2019 FY.
The Deputy Minister said the CMP textile sector mainly contributed to the rise in exports by tripling its trade from USD800 million in 2015-2016 FY to USD2.561 billion in 2018-2019 FY as of 10 May. He said unverified sources have cited textile exports for this year have reached USD4.7 billion.
Additionally, the fishery sector has increased its trade by 65 per cent with USD699.04 million in 2017-2018 FY, said the Deputy Minister, adding that the development of fish, prawn and crab breeding businesses is expected to increase trade in the fishery sector up to USD1 billion in 2020. He said they exported 3.5 million tons of rice in 2017-2018 FY and estimate exporting 2.2 million tons this year. The Deputy Minister said they are successful in decreasing the trade deficit year by year as the deficit was standing at USD5.212 billion in 2016-2017 FY but gradually dropped to USD3.836 billion in 2017-2018 FY, USD1.037 billion in 2018’s mini budget period, and to USD0.905 billion for 2018-2019 FY as of 10 May.
He said they have organized fully online licensing for 32 export items and 49 import items, including CMP textiles, so as to increase trade. He said they shifted the issuing process for Individual Trading Cards in border trade camps from manual to an online application system on 1 October 2018. He said they also shifted to an online application system for issuing Certificate of Origin – CO Forms.
The Ministry is focusing on drafting laws for better consumer safety regarding food safety as well as protecting our local products. We are trying to prevent hugely discounted imports to come into the country that can damage the local economy through quotas, said the Deputy Minister. The Ministry is drafting a Safeguard Law on Increased Imports in addition to an all-encompassing Trade Law for Myanmar in collaboration with World Bank Group and GIZ. The Myanmar Competition Law was passed on 24 Feb 2015 and came into force on 24 Feb 2017.
The Deputy Minister said they have prohibited multi-level marketing via a Notification No. 46/2018 issued on 18 September 2018. The notification says those found operating MLM-type businesses will face legal action under the Essential Supplies and Services Law. The law states that if found guilty, the person will face imprisonment between six months and three years and shall also be liable for a fine not exceeding K500,000.
Ministry of Planning and Finance
Permanent Secretary U Tun Tun Naing said the Ministry is approaching projects according to the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2018-2030) and is documenting all of them -public and private- in the project bank. In 2018, the Ministry published the National Disaster Report in June as well as the Export Import Financing Document for the banks.
The Myanma Economic Bank and Myanma Agriculture and Development Bank loaned a total of K166 billion to 3733 persons through the Myanmar agro-businesses and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) within the last financial year.
There are also 177 microfinance organizations that have been created to help villagers with their SME businesses.
These microfinance organizations located across the country were able to loan up to K6267 billion in the previous financial year. The start of the financial year has also been moved from October 1st to September 30th to avoid holidays as much as possible.
U Tun Tun Naing said the Central Statistical Organization was able to publish the Key Indicators Report of the Myanmar Living Conditions Survey 2017 to better support preparations, response and rehabilitation towards natural disasters.
He said The Union Tax law was updated in 2018 with its implementation stage set for two years. The board has been formed and will be hearing and deciding on issues to move forward soon. The income tax law is going under review along with plans to move to a digital tax collection system with an Integrated Tax Administration System. The Myanmar Automated Cargo Clearance System has also proven to save the nation a lot of time and other resources so we will be expanding them throughout the nation as well.
U Tun Tun Naing said the government recently increased the amount for pensioners. This not only apply to people who are already on pension but also people who will soon be in the system as well. The system has been upgraded to a mobile payment system so pensioners can save time and money to travel to their respective banks. There are 8 bank branches as well in Yangon. A Central Provident Fund- CPF is also being discussed to ease the burden on the government for pension payments while making sure we are able to pay the pensioners long term.
U Tun Tun Naung said there are 4 state-owned banks in Myanmar: Myanma Foreign Trade Bank, Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, Myanma Economic Bank, and Myanma Agriculture and Development Bank. The banks have expanded the services they provided such as the introduction of JICA Two-step Loan. There is also the low-interest SME loans and for MFTB and MICB, there is trade financing for businesses that needs loans for export/import businesses. The banks are also introducing digital mobile banking and are trying to phase from the manual system. The Housing Finance program is also introduced to help people own houses on low-interest loans for up to 10/15 years.
Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations
Permanent Secretary U Aung Naing Oo said The Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, set up in the incumbent government’s third year in office, works to increase investment in the country so that smoother and effective processes can take place between other union ministries, central organizations, regions and states governments which will, in turn, drive up businesses.
The ministry was officially added to the cabinet of the Union Government on 19 November 2018 with Notification No. 87/2018 from the Office of the President. The following is an interview with Union Minister U Thaung Tun on his ministry’s progress in the four months since its inception.
He said the ministry’s main objective is to attract more investment into the country to boost national development. Geographically, Myanmar is in a good location, the population is proper and have high untapped potential. He said with India, China and other ASEAN nations neighbouring the nation, we can achieve our goal to establish a modern, developed and prosperous nation if we can bring in their investments. He said it was for this reason a separate ministry to focus on the investment sector was created.
Since its inception, the ministry has been working hard to create a new environment that will allow investments by domestic and foreign investors to be conducted in a more efficient and smoother manner, said U Aung Naing Oo.
He said the One Stop Shops bring everything an investor will need into one place, such as work permits. This will greatly convenience both domestic and foreign businesses in Myanmar. He said another one of the ministry’s tasks in making Myanmar’s businesses more attractive is organizing investment fairs, such as the ones held in Mandalay and Ayeyawady regions and Rakhine State.
He said the ministry also held an Investment and Regional Product Fair of Chin State in Yangon and the Invest Myanmar Summit in early 2019 in Nay Pyi Taw which was arranged for both domestic and foreign businesses and investors.
The Permanent Secretary said the ministry has launched the online system MyCO to make company registration easier. He said the ministry is working to have the registration completed within the hour after registering from the online platform and are working on similar changes.
Afterwards, the officials replied to questions from the media. —Tun Nanda Kyaw
(Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)