Minister of Energy to chair investment commission

Minister for Energy Zayyar Aung, who has a close relationship with President Thein Sein, has been appointed as chairperson of the influential Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).

In a new reshuffle, a number of top ministers and government officials, including Htay Aung (Hotels and Tourism), Win Tun (Environment and Forestry) and Tun Shin (Attorney General), were chosen as senior members of the commission.

Maung Maung Thein, the deputy minister for finance, Lei Lei Thein, the deputy minister for national planning and development, as well as economist Thaung Lwin, and retired ambassador Dr. Aung Tun Thet, were also elected members.

Aung Naing Oo from the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration (DICA) was selected as MIC’s secretary and retired deputy director general Mya Thuza was chosen as associate secretary.

The reshuffle of the MIC was announced by the President’s office in late May. There are now 13 members in the new commission, including the chairperson, while the previous commission had only 11 members.

Zayyar Aung was formerly in charge of the army’s northern command and under his tenure fighting resumed between the army and the Kachin Independence Army, breaking a 17-year ceasefire. He transferred to politics after being appointed as Minister for Rail Transportation under Thein Sein’s new government. After that he was reassigned as Minister for Energy. He is also the brother-in-law of Presidential Spokesperson Ye Htut.

The MIC is currently the main government gateway granting permission to foreign investors and companies wanting to do business in Myanmar. Investors need to fill out an application form requesting permission from the MIC and must submit the forms to the MIC’s head office in Nay Pyi Taw and a branch office in Yangon.

Proposals are then submitted to a Proposal Assessment Team held weekly in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, and the team decides and informs respective organisations whether their applications have been accepted or rejected. The team also seeks advice from regional governments and respective ministries concerning the proposals.

Critics have pointed to the MIC for favouring influential companies and being weak on issues of transparency and corruption, as those chosen to work in the commission are often favourites in the current regime.

Under former chairperson Soe Thein, the commission gave permission to build beer and liquor factories and privatised government factories. The government had appointed Minister for Finance Win Shein to head the MIC and although no one criticised him, the government soon replaced him with Zayyar Aung.

Source: ELEVEN Myanmar

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