Next change for new-look MIC? Independence

The Myanmar Investment Commission is to be made independent of the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development in the near future, the body’s new secretary told The Myanmar Times last week following a reshuffle that saw it expand from 11 to 13 members.

“The MIC will become independent like the Central Bank. But we have to take time to amend the law. It will not happen immediately,” said U Aung Naing Oo, a director general in the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration and commission member.

The commission will also relocate from Nay Pyi Taw to Yangon, he added.

He made the comments following a reshuffle announced on May 28 that saw Minister for Energy U Zeyar Aung replace Minister for Finance U Win Shein as head of the commission.

Minister for Tourism U Htay Aung was appointed to the new position of commission vice chair, while Deputy Minister for Finance U Maung Maung Thein and Deputy Minister for National Planning and Economic Development Daw Lei Lei Thein were also both added to the body. U Aung Naing Oo was appointed secretary in place of Minister for Finance U Kan Zaw.

While more than half of commission members are ministers or deputy ministers, U Aung Naing Oo said this would not affect the independence of the body.

“The rest are [civilian experts]. The ministers will do their ministerial work and at the same time they will carry out the work of this independent body. The details will be contained in the amended law,” he said.

“Currently, the commission’s expenses are covered by the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development but it will have a separate budget in the future.”

The administrative work is carried out by the staff from that ministry now but later it will have its own staff.”

The state-run New Light of Myanmar reported on May 30 that the reformation of MIC was designed to attract more foreign investment.

It is the third major change to the commission since U Thein Sein became president in early 2011. The commission was firstly reformed that year and headed by Minister for the President’s Office U Soe Thein. He was replaced by U Win Shein in 2013.

Under the military government the commission was seen as a tool of the regime and had almost no independence. Under U Thein Sein’s government it has been given greater freedom, but still operates according to guidelines provided by the President’s Office.

Last year, it was told to prioritise manufacturing investment in an effort to create more job opportunities. In 2013-14 it approved investment of US$4.1 billion, of which about 45 percent, or $1.9 billion, was in manufacturing. Total investment was almost three times the $1.4 billion approved in 2012-13.

Source: Myanmar Times

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