Illegal foreign-run businesses in Yangon MPs’ crosshairs

Amid much talk of luring outside investment to Myanmar, Yangon Region lawmakers have indicated that they want to see greater scrutiny of foreign operators of illegal businesses in the commercial capital.

Regional MPs yesterday approved a proposal to debate cracking down on these foreign entrepreneurs next week.

Parliamentarian U Win Maung (NLD; Hlaing Tharyar 1) submitted the proposal at yesterday’s parliamentary session, telling lawmakers that Yangon Region authorities had for too long turned a blind eye to illegal enterprises ranging from gambling dens and real estate ventures to KTV outfits and drinking holes.

By the Myanmar Real Estate Service Association’s estimate, he said, as of June 20 there were about 100 foreign real estate agencies that were operating without licences and related permissions from the relevant ministries, most of them Chinese and Korean.

U Win Maung said foreign businesspeople had for years taken advantage of a corrupt bureaucracy and weak rule of law to set up shop in Yangon without going through the proper channels.

“I wondered when I saw a boarding-house that is owned by a foreign businessman in a squatter area of Hlaing Tharyar township. Those businesses won’t be giving any tax to the government,” he said.

The MP said so-called K5K shops – peddling goods priced at a flat K5000 and typically owned by Chinese nationals – had proliferated this year without licences from Yangon City Development Committee and related authorities. Some foreigner-owned bars and restaurants were also suspect, he added.

“I can say that the government won’t get any tax from them and the government should take action effectively. The country and our people won’t get any benefits from these kinds of businesses. The government should consider that,” said U Win Maung.

MP U Hla Htay (NLD; Mingalar Taung Nyunt 1) said the government must handle the issue in accordance with the Foreign Investment Law.

“The government shouldn’t be just monitoring and inspecting these businesses. They should take action against them,” he said.

The regional parliament will debate the proposal on October 11.

“I think that this proposal will help advance rule of law. And foreigners will respect our country if we have a strong rule of law system,” said U Win Maung.

While unlicensed businesses were in Yangon Region MPs’ crosshairs yesterday, the National League for Democracy government has followed in its predecessor’s footsteps in encouraging foreign businesses to legally enter the country. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said on her visit to the United States last month that such investment would help spur economic development at home.

According to Myanmar’s Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, approved investment for the 2015-16 fiscal year hit US$9.4 billion.

 

Source: Myanmar Times

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