Dialogue titled “Is Doing Business in Myanmar Easy?”
Myanma Radio and Television presents the dialogue under the title “Is Doing Business in Myanmar Easy?” in which Director General U Aung Soe of Myanmar Trade Promotion Organization, Director General U Aung Naing Oo of Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration, Director Daw Thidar Myint of Internal Revenue Department and Secretary Daw Khaing Khaing Nwe of Myanmar Garment Entrepreneurs Association are participating.
- By Kyaw Thu Htet &
Myo Thu Hein
Photo by Aye Than
(Continued from 27th November issue)
Daw Khaing Khaing Nwe: Raising awareness is much needed. For example, the government side introduces a reform agenda which is known by some departments but some are not. For our part, we have to deal with many government departments not just one department. In such a case, we receive a better service at the department which has knowledge but face hindrance in other department which has no idea.
Another fact is that we know the change but we don’t know what is going on in practice and when we are asked to answer the question, we reply that we don’t know. It isn’t wrong because we are facing some difficulties in the practical work. Yes, a change is made in one department, but the other department doesn’t know about that. This shows the change does not flow properly.
When a question is raised to us at such a time, we do not know what is going on and it is not a lie to give an answer of we have no idea as we haven’t enjoyed the change yet. But for the department, they have made a real change. Therefore, before a question is coming from World Bank, we need to know what is happening on ground to be able to enjoy benefit comes out from the change.
U Aung Soe: We have been introducing reforms. Reform means transforming systems carried out in government sector to improve private sector and to create economic growth. In the economy, making the businesses more profitable under the leadership of the private sector and to ensure improvement, there are services to be provided by the government in harmony with the business. This is Ease of Doing Business Index.
Making reforms is to find the easiest way different from the previous approaches. This process is not an easy. There are something that we try to understand but couldn’t. Therefore as providing information on what we are doing we are coming up with the marketing campaign. The private sector shall practice like an enterprise. We need to raise awareness on reform mindset especially to get the private sector to come along. Secondly, we need to conduct capacity building training for our staff. We ourselves also are learning this subject from World Bank. Experts from World Bank are here to clarify what is Ease of Doing Business Index. I myself visited Malaysia and studied doing business there through joint committee between the government and private sectors. Taking into consideration the fact that which area should be developed or which part should be reformed, the process has to be developed for years.
We started introducing the process in 2014 and we are just at the very early stage in that knowledge. The questionnaires are in English and their writing styles are difficult for us to clearly understand resulting in getting confused among staff of both private and government sectors. These questionnaires were not replied by senior officials but by junior staff causing errors. These are the experiences every country had to accumulate.
We met the private sector and explained the nature of questionnaires. If you ask is it enough, the answer is “No.” The questionnaires were most sent to law firms and legal firms. For legal firms, their relationships with government departments are not much. They may be proficient in answering questionnaires concerning the department with which they have more relations but they may give wrong answers concerning with the department with which they have less relations. We’ve tried to pass this stage as one of the steps.
We need to highlight the private sector and attract their interests. At the same time capacity building is a must for government departments. There is process for each indicator and there is also Standard Operation Procedure (SOP). It is to identify what is needed for each indicator. We upload all these facts on the website. Currently, we tried to create a website named Ease of Doing Business. Before it is emerged, one can browse what he wants to know in our department’s website. SOPs of each indicator can be browsed in the site. For convenience of every businessman, information counters have been established.
There are information counters at every service center. One can ask through email or phone. Based on experiences gained and through proper methods, we are trying our best with the support and suggestion of World Bank. If businessmen enjoy business dreams such as getting credit, enjoying electricity, receiving construction permit and smooth flow in import and export process, all the businessmen can be attracted to invest in our country. We are on the way to reach this goal. We are trying and we will continue our efforts.
With the aim of improving the process, a committee led by the deputy minister holds meeting once in every two weeks with officials of World Bank and businessmen from the private sector. He often meets DGs of the respective departments to hold meetings. If we can reduce the duration, cost and procedures, trade will improve. Through these measures we are trying for economic development.
Reform process is a long-term job. We can improve our rank to reach 170 from 190. Last year, it dropped to 171. But the score remained intact. Generally, the score has been improved. We have prepared for next year. As there are many countries participating in the process, we cannot definitely say we will improve. We are trying to get more score and we believe it will improve.
U Aung Naing Oo: Let me take this opportunity to inform the public an important matter. I’d like to share a topic called Protection of Minority Shareholders. In 1914 Company Act, there is no clause that protects minority shareholders. In this new law, protection of minority is enshrined. There are three indexes for protection of minority: Whether the interests are in contradiction to each other, to what extent shareholders can participate in company’s management and how it protects the minority shareholders. Duties and responsibilities of directors are also enshrined in the law. So, I would like to inform the public that the roles of the directors are greater than ever. It must be taken into consideration. If he fails to discharge his duties there will be an action to be taken against him. He is also responsible to protect the minority. Finally, I would like to urge the minority to learn the new law to be able to fully enjoy own rights.
(Translated by Wallace)