- By Kyuntha Ngamann
Rakhine State has naturally an inherent potential for growth. But it has lagged behind other Regions and States in terms of commerce and social development after Independence in 1948 which has been invested with several kinds of insurgency. Economic development plays an important role in overall developments in Rakhine State; it is an agriculture-based State. It is an initial state of small and medium businesses, far from doing heavy industries.
State Investment Fair
Massive investments are not found in economic sectors in Rakhine.
Successive governments have called for investments for overall developments of the State. After emergence of democratic government in 2010s, the Regional Government composed of elected representatives has created economic zones for the development of the State.
Investors took a wait-and- see position after disturbances in 2012, reducing a numbers of investors. The State government took an action for economic development of the State for the second time. It is learnt that the State Investment Fair was scheduled to be held at Ngapali Beach , Thandwe on February 21, 22 and 23, 2019 to attract domestic and foreign investors. Local and foreign investors will be cordially invited to attend the Fair. The Rakhine businessmen will have a chance to display their businesses and an opportunity to discuss with local and foreign investors, probably leading to signing of MoUs.
The Economy fundamentals
Successive governments have invited local investors since 2010 as well as those from abroad. It has also called for the establishment of industrial zones in the State with electricity as an essential part in the process. Now the Ponnagyun Electricity supply of 230 kilovolts was already built for the township industrial zone. In order to supply full electricity to the Rakhine State, the Oshitpin Electricity Branch was connected with Taungup(Bayay) branch and 67-mile Man-Ann line was laid to connect with normal supply lines. At the same time, the establishment of Gas Engine was carried out in Kyaukphyu Township by using natural gas and steam to produce more electricity.
For road transportation sector in the State, a road network was built between towns and villages. In order to connect with the East Yoma, three roads were constructed to cross over the Rakhine Yoma: Ann-Minbu mountain pass, Taungup-Pyay mountain pass and Gwa-Ngathaingchaung pass. In addition, Gwa-kyaukchon- Shwethaungyan circular road along the coast was constructed. For international waterway, the Sittway Port was built and so was the Kyaukphyu Port for swift border trade. Also, Kayinchaung Industrial Zone and Economic Zone in Maungdaw were under way for swift border trade with neighbor Bangladesh. At the same time, policies of Kyaukphu Special Economic and Industrial Zones and Deep-sea ports are being carried out. Multi-purpose planning in Kalandan River and trading Centres in Northern Rakhine to deal with India are also reliable. There is a possibility for an economic corridor between Ayewaddy Region and Circular Roads along the Coast.
Rakhine State has attracted some investments mainly in deep-sea explorations of petroleum and natural gas, but few investments in inland areas of the State. In the State, there were 28 business investments worth US$ 10241.383 million during the Financial Year of 1988-89 to October, 2018. Local investments in 21 businesses from Financial Year of 1988-89 to 2018-19 were worth US$ 115.560 million, according to the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration.
According to the statistics, a new business in mineral extraction materialized US$ 18.147 million, 26 energy businesses generated US$ 10213.983 million and other service business was worth US$ 9.253 million. Two industrial businesses owned by Myanmar nationals realized US$ one million and K. 3052.200 million, 11 businesses under Hotel and Tourism Sector realized US$ 19. 520 million and K.72576.080 million.
One construction company was worth US$ 9.330 million and K. 20701.650 million, 5 businesses under Livestock breeding and Fishery Sector generated US$ 6.380 million and K. 479.790 million and other two service businesses have realized US$ 79.330 and K.142539.202 million were allowed to operate in the country. These amounts were invested in Rakhine State during a period of 20 years. More money is found invested in service sectors rather than production ones. Local investments are found to be in livestock breeding and fishery sectors.
At the same time, statistics issued by the Department of Internal Revenues during the financial year of 2017-2018, outstanding payers on Tariffs and Income Tax were 50 out of 100 persons; very few are found to be engaged in trading and majority are engaged in contracting.
There are many energetic forces in Rakhine State to bring private businesses to success: Merchant and Industrial Association, Rakhine Youth Association, Cooperative Syndicate, Salt Production Association, Farmers Association, Prawn Breeding Association, Fishery and Animal Husbandry Associations, Rakhine Employers Association are not only located in Sittway but also in Yangon, Ayeyawaddy, Bago, Pyay and Mandalay , thus paving the way to the formation of Rakhine Employers Association(Central). Private employers have cooperated with these Associations for production purposes. Rakhine traditional weavings on self-help basis are located in Sittway and Thandwe. They produce and distribute high-quality traditional clothes. In addition, weaving industries for famous Rakhine longyis are built. There are two textile factories; Rakhine traditional clothes are distributed throughout Myanmar. Famous Rakhine longyis are even exported to neighboring Bangladesh.
The Coordinating Committee for Private Sector development of Rakhine State was composed of 21 members in September, 2018; the Committee is patronized by Chief Minister, Finance and Commerce Ministers of the State. The Committee is expected to coordinate requirements between the private businesses and the Government. The meetings will be regularly held between the Government and private businesses which have experienced problems and challenges.
Prioritizing the production
The most important task in Rakhine State is to create job opportunities by building productive works, mills and factories.
Agriculture and animal husbandry must be taken into consideration for local businesses as well as for export purposes. As the salt production is in decline, the sector is weak in competing for exports.
It is an encouraging sign for the State, given that the State owns a beautiful beach filled with rich saltiness of sea water. The Coastal and Freshwater Fisheries could be developed as well as cattle farming.
Furthermore, tourism industry can be carried out; Man-Aung Island offers a haven of peace and serenity. It is a virgin island which could attract a lot of investments.
Rakhine State Investment Fair was scheduled to be held at the Ngapali Beach, Thandwe in February, 2019; it would be an opportune moment for Rakhine businessmen to discuss with local and foreign investors. It would also create a golden opportunity for economic developments of the State. At the same time, efforts should be made to have a unity among the State government, economic enterprises and private businesses.
(Translated by Arakan Sein)