Ministries in ‘Heated Discussion’ With Investment Body Over Details of New Law

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Government ministries having been slowing down efforts to draft rules and regulations for Myanmar’s new investment law because they are reluctant to relinquish powers over companies that fall under their remit, a senior official at Myanmar’s investment body has said.

U Aung Naing Oo, director general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), told an audience of businesspeople last week that certain ministries were at odds with government policy that urges moves to greater liberalisation and less red tape for new investors.

The director general said the Myanmar Investment Commission, where he is Secretary, had a “heated discussion” with ministries at a recent meeting he called in Naypyitaw.

Several ministries, which he did not name, had responded to a letter he sent asking for suggestions on the new rules by saying they wanted more “regulatory power”. They also wanted to increase the scope of rules that require certain industries to get permission from ministries before investing, he said.

The new Myanmar Investment Law, passed by both houses in October, has been praised because it is seen to offer clarity and certainty to potential investors. It is also a signal of the government’s intent to speed up the process of getting approval for projects.

Under the current system companies have to apply for approval from the ministry covering their industry – a process that U Aung Naing Oo says can take up to seven weeks – before they can approach the Myanmar Investment Commission for a permit.

The director general has made clear his desire to minimise the ministries’ involvement.

Gaining the consent of ministries was “very problematic” he told the audience at a meeting held by the Australia-Myanmar Chamber of Chamber of Commerce in November.

He hopes that under the new law companies will only need ministry approval for projects involving sensitive areas like mining, oil and gas, and logging, or for large-scale investments.

By the end of the Naypyitaw meeting “almost all” of the ministries said they understood U Aung Naing Oo’s objectives, he said.

DICA is now writing up the rules and regulations to flesh out the new law, and has promised they will be ready for the next financial year.

 

Source: Myanmar Business Today

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