Myanmar: Boosting productivity key to fostering economic development

DSC 0728 72By Dr. Maung Aung
Generally, a country’s economic development can be basically divided into agriculture, industrial and service sectors, which are components of the GDP of a nation. GDP is a very vital indicator of economic progress. In general, if a country’s GDP has a high ratio in agriculture, it can be regarded as a developing country. But if a country’s GDP has maintained a high ratio in the service sector, we can regard it as a rich developed country. It is found that the service sector makes a higher contribution to GDP in developed countries than the industrial and agricultural sectors.
The export of services is one of the main sources that earn foreign currency for the country. Service exports include all the service industries such as tourism, real estate services for foreigners, transportation, banking, insurance, technology, education, healthcare services, foreign firms, people who work at international agencies, and seamen and labourers who are going to work in foreign countries. Out of many service export industries in the country, related measures have been taken to set up the National Export Strategy that includes tourism industry aiming to promote nature-based tourism and adventure tourism. Myanmar is the largest mainland country in the South-east Asia region that contains different topographical features, mountains, unspoiled beaches along the coastlines, rivers, lakes situated on highlands, different ethnic tribes, customs and archaeological sites and so on. That’s why Myanmar is listed as one of the most amazing nations with promising tourism destinations in the world. In order to promote the tourism industry, arrangements have been made to grant visa exemption, to relax some rules including show money cases and to abolish arrival and departure cards, aiming to facilitate the tourism industry. The Myanmar Tourism Law will be enacted and will tourists to enter the country through airlines and waterways. As a result, it is found that a horde of tourists from many countries including Thailand, China and India are visiting through the border gates.

In terms of mass tourism, Myanmar’s tourism boom is set to slow down due to false news and instability in Rakhine State, which can potentially hamper the tourism industry. In order to improve the tourism sectors, efforts are needed to restore peace and stability, to provide safe environments, smooth transportation and reasonable hotel rates for globetrotters. As for the hosts, they should welcome and treat the tourists with open arms and good hospitality. Cooperation is also needed to create good environments for tourists to enjoy a safe and pleasant stay in Myanmar.

Developing new service industry
Authorities concerned should try to create new environments in order for tourists to spend more money. It is found that majority of them pay a visit to many destinations such Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inlay and the Kyaikhteeyoe. According to the data on tourist arrivals in Asia, China sees teh highest number of tourists, followed by Thailand, which is a major source of foreign currency income for the country, and this smokeless industry can contribute to the tourism-related industries such as hotels, logistics, restaurants, entertainment, recreation centers, banking, insurance, nightclubs and so on. Myanmar is also well-known for its hospitality.

Offering new places for the tourists
One of the vital services for the tourists is to have easy access to safe and pleasant environments as well as nice restaurants, i.e. it is important for the wayside shops to sell clean, hygienic and fresh food. Similarly, we should find ways and means to sell hand-made products, to establish elephant camps and water-based tourism for the local people. Moreover, the Hluttaw has approved legalization of hotel casinos for foreigners and it can presumably be one of the new ways to earn foreign currency. Similarly the authorities should consider opening registered night-clubs as an additional channel for tourist income. Likewise, the government can get revenue from foreigners leasing real estate and condominiums. It is also important to receive revenues and taxes from the Myanmar nationals working in local NGOs, companies, agencies and INGOs. All their taxes are important for the national income and remittance should be made in proper channels so that the country can gain benefits from it. According to a report released by the World Bank, there was a total of $600 billion in 2017 alone, among major remittance recipients; India retains its top spot, with $69 billion, China retains $64 billion and the Philippine retains $33 billion, respectively. Many labourers from the Philippines work overseas in countries such as the US, Europe, Japan, Korea and Singapore, in jobs as doctors, engineers, experts and nurses, especially home-helpers. The advantage is that the majority of Filipinos can speak fluent English, which can facilitate their jobs to some extent and can avoid exploitation, ill-treatment and forced labour.
According to the World Bank report, it is estimated that there were approximately 4 million Myanmar migrant workers who had worked in foreign countries in 2015-2016. The disadvantage is that they illegally entered into Thailand without holding any passports or visa. But, thanks to the endeavour of the authorities concerned, permission had been granted to send the Myanmar labourers legally through registered employment agencies. Systematic measures have been made to appoint the labourers at their respective workplaces in Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand. The ministry concerned has made concerted efforts for the Myanmar migrant workers to find employment legally and deal with their problems through Myanmar Embassies so that the mutual trust between the government and the employees can be built. Most of the workers come from the remote areas and they have managed to borrow money for their travelling expenses and various payments for employment agencies’ services. Thus, we can tackle their financial problem by borrowing enough money needed for their jobs. Moreover they can transfer the money to Myanmar through the proper channels. The migrant workers can transfer their money through the banks. Therefore, the government should find ways and means to increase the nation’s wealth by uncovering the exports of services, especially the tourism industry and migrant workers.

People’s obligation
Only if the government and all the citizens work hand in hand will a prosperous nation be built. Cooperation with a spirit of nationalism is required to boost service exports through business personnel, endeavour of the youths, innovation, and adopting international standards. As for the State Government, necessary measures have to be taken to boost the tourism industry, transfer remittance of migrant Myanmar workers officially through banks, while ensuring they adhere to the rules and regulation of the banks, so that national economic development is achieved.
Translated by Win Ko Ko Aung
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