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Mandalay chamber to focus on SME loan and Chinese investment

U Kyaw Min, newly elected chair of the Mandalay Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MRCCI), sees big potential for the region to draw Chinese investments and tap local talent for growth and development.

Mandalay is Myanmar’s second largest city and often hailed as the country’s northern economic powerhouse.

“We have drawn up a one-year plan to help small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] gain access to funding for growth and facilitate foreign direct investments from China, which is the biggest investor in Mandalay,” he told The Myanmar Times during a recent interview. U Kyaw Min, who owns domestic business Sein & Mya Mattress and is a respected business leader in the city, has also served in the chamber for the past 15 years.

He was elected as chair of the organisation last month, during its second round of elections since its 1991 establishment. Here is an excerpt of our interview with U Kyaw Min.

Can you tell us about the new structure of the chamber?

We have expanded the number of executive members to 110 from 61 to include 23 youths and 32 women. Around 20 percent of the old team were also retained. I believe the new composition of executive members will help improve and develop the MRCCI’s role in representing the interests of the private sector in Mandalay Region.

How will the MRCCI support the Mandalay economy?

We are in talks with the banks on ways to help SMEs gain access to loans without the need for collateral. One of the potential solutions is for banks to disburse loans to borrowers with the MRCCI acting as a third party guarantor in accordance with the law.

The next step is to communicate more regularly with the regional government and build connections with foreign investors. This will help us improve and become more effective in our role as a bridge between the go ernment, investors and local firms.

What is the current state of the Mandalay economy? What can be done to improve it?

Even though we expected things to improve, the economy has not been doing very well compared to previous years. We should consider the barriers and challenges involved and how to remove them.

One of the most urgent issues that must be dealt with is tax. The government must ensure businesses pay tax to enable more effective public spending. But there is also the need to relax the tax regulations. If taxes are too strictly enforced, the implications will be felt all the way at the grassroots level.

But if the government levies lower tax burden on new business, many will come forward to pay. This will help establish a habit of paying taxes among businesses and generate regular income for the government.

What level of foreign investments are you seeing in Mandalay?

So far, the majority of investments in Mandalay are carried out by local firms with support from foreign investors, most of which are Chinese.

Recently, we are seeing China’s investments flow into the Myotha Industrial Park as well as the hotel and tourism sector. There have been few Western investors here as they usually take years to carry out their market research and due diligence procedures, and

Mandalay needs investments quickly to expand and grow.

Source : Myanmar Times

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