Myanmar Update: March 1, 2019

Myanmar Update | March 1, 2019
Author: Riley Smith and Jack Myint
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

NLD Government Aims to Reduce Military’s Influence in Government By Changing Constitution

On February 6, Myanmar’s Union Parliament (Pyihtaungsu Hluttaw) voted 389-192 to appoint a parliamentary committee to review amendments to the military-drafted 2008 Constitution. Upper House (Amyotha Hluttaw) Member of Parliament (MP) U Aung Kyi Nyunt, who is from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, submitted the proposal to seek to change the constitution and said the efforts would focus on seven items—the removal of provisions that are “contrary to democratic standards, inconsistent or contradictory, obstructed or hindered the building of a genuine democratic Union essential to achieving national peace, deterrents to implementing multi-party democracy, created imbalances between the three pillars of government, failed to protect the equality of citizens, and discouraged free and fair elections.” In other words, U Aung Kyi indicated that the NLD is seeking to substantially change the constitution so that the role of the Myanmar Military (Tatmadaw) in national politics is diminished or removed.

Myanmar’s military-drafted 2008 constitution ensured that the Tatmadaw retained a tight grip on key legislative bodies and ministries even in the event that the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) lost an election, as it did in the 2015 general elections. The constitution allots 25% of all parliamentary seats (Union and state/region levels), three key ministries – defense, border, and home affairs, and one of two Vice Presidential posts to the Tatmadaw. Moreover, any key amendments to the constitution must receive more than 75% of the Union Parliament’s votes to pass, effectively giving the Tatmadaw veto power over the legislature, given that its MPs vote in a bloc upon orders of the Commander-in-Chief.

The committee tasked with reviewing amendments to the constitution will be made up of 18 Members of Parliament (MPs) from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, eight MPs from the Myanmar Military (Tatmadaw), two MPs each from the main opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Arakan National Party (ANP), and Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), and 13 other lawmakers. Deputy Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, U Tun Tun Hein (NLD), will chair the committee, which will be responsible for drafting a constitutional reform bill that will be submitted to Parliament.

This is the second major attempt by the NLD to amend the constitution. The first attempt was in 2015, when the NLD was the opposition party in a majority USDP parliament. The failure of those attempts gave the NLD a key campaign promise on which to run during the 2015 general elections—a promise to amend the constitution if voted into power. However, if the NLD wishes to implement substantive, long-lasting reforms, collaborating with the Tatmadaw, as opposed to outright alienating it, is key to success. The Tatmadaw has stated that it is not against changing the constitution, as long as it is duly consulted, but if tensions were to rise between the NLD and Tatmadaw on this issue, the deleterious effects it would likely have on the national peace process and institutional reforms would be significant.


Myanmar to Establish Coast Guard Under Civilian Control

On January 28, Myanmar Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung announced that the government is planning to establish a coast guard that would be under civilian control and that would protect national security, enforce the conservation of Myanmar’s marine resources, respond to maritime accidents and natural disasters, and crackdown on drugs, arms, and human trafficking. It will also be responsible for ensuring the safety of sea routes, particularly in parts of the country where there is off-shore drilling and construction of deep-sea ports. Currently, all maritime security responsibilities are shared by the Myanmar Navy, a branch of the Myanmar Military (Tatmadaw) and the Maritime Police Force, which is housed under the Ministry of Home Affairs (one of the three ministries controlled by the Tatmadaw). The new coast guard is expected to be comprised of personnel from various existing departments such as Immigration, Customs, Fire Services and Marine Administration. 

According to the announcement from the President’s Office, the coast guard will be established as a civilian department, which is an important distinction given that it appears to contradict a provision in the 2008 Constitution. That provision states that all armed forces shall be under the command of the Commander-in-Chief of the Tatmadaw. However, Minister U Thant Sin Maung said that the Coast Guard will be established with the cooperation of the Ministry of Defense, which appears to indicate that the Tatmadaw is on board with this plan.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
National Affairs
Myanmar Consumer Protection Law Update: Product Labelling Requirement
Military Warns of 'Battleground' if Constitutional Amendments Mishandled
The NLD's move to amend the constitution is unlikely to succeed
Parliament approves constitutional amendment committee by 2-to-1
Thura U Shwe Mann gears up for political comeback
New 45-Member Parliamentary Committee to Create Bill Amending Myanmar’s Constitution
Week in Review: Jumping on the charter amendment bandwagon
Myanmar Court Sentences Two Men to Death for Killing of Suu Kyi Aide
USDP submits own proposal to amend 2008 Constitution
ANALYSIS-In Myanmar, new parties challenge Suu Kyi's grip on power
Japan envoy says development is solution for Rakhine
Time to Abolish Ministries’ ‘Other Accounts’: NLD Lawmaker
USAID pledges $72m to boost Myanmar media, civil society, communities

Customs
Two new customs offices designated under ASEAN agreement
Customs clearance system gets updates

Economics
US businesses eye investment opportunities in Myanmar
High expectations, low confidence at Invest Myanmar Summit
Singapore leads FDI list
Infographic: The Suu Kyi Government’s Performance in Numbers
Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Myanmar: 2018 Overview
Japan to Take Leading Role in Pushing FDI in Rakhine
Foreign business leaders join call for investments in Myanmar

Energy
Govt. to implement Nantpanga hydropower project in Homalin
Frontier Markets Investment Portfolio: A Mining Site in Northern Myanmar
Three regions petition against Myintsone project
Ministry implements first phase of NEP

Financial Services
CBM headed in right direction, bank development expected: experts
Bankers seek clarity over foreign equity in Myanmar banks

Food & Agriculture
FAO assists Myanmar to improve food security
With 'on-the-go' loans and tech, social firm boosts Myanmar farmers

Health & Life Sciences
How to fortify, fast-track public health
Myanmar facing 'public health disaster' as children as young as 9 get hooked on meth

ICT
Connect to Learn: Exploring VR in the classroom of tomorrow
Huawei keen to guide 5G in Myanmar

Infrastructure
Upscale housing project takes shape near Mandalay
State Counselor Vows Proper Scrutiny of all BRI Projects in Myanmar
New Yangon City Project: China, CCCC and Myanmar’s profits
Japan-backed bridge project begins in Yangon
Myanmar aims urban planning for over 330 towns by 2030: Union Minister
Water, traffic projects set to improve Yangon

Travel & Tourism
Mdy Region gov’t issuing tourist permits for Mogok
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs


Military Warns of 'Battleground' if Constitutional Amendments Mishandled The Irrawaddy 20th Feb 2019
Brig. Gen. Maung Maung on Wednesday warned of national instability if any one political party amends the Constitution with only its goals in mind. “Because our country is in a strategic position, it could become a battleground if a wrong position is taken. It is necessary to be aware of this,” he told reporters in Naypyitaw. The general, who lead’s the military-appointed lawmakers in the Union Parliament, said the Constitution should be amended in line with the law and accused the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) of using its parliamentary majority in a high-handed manner.

The NLD's move to amend the constitution is unlikely to succeed Frontier Myanmar 20th Feb 2019
IN A DECISION with far-reaching implications, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw voted on February 6 to appoint a parliamentary committee to review proposed amendments to the military-drafted 2008 Constitution. The vote, which followed a proposal submitted by the National League for Democracy on January 29 – the party’s first bid to amend the constitution since taking office – aroused strong objections from non-elected Tatmadaw MPs.

Parliament approves constitutional amendment committee by 2-to-1 The Myanmar Times 20th Feb 2019
The committee to amend the constitution was approved by a vote in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Assembly of the Union) on Tuesday. MPs from 14 political parties, Tatmadaw (military) MPs and independents met twice to discuss the committee’s formation. In Tuesday’s vote, 389 MPs voted for, 192 against, and three abstained.

Thura U Shwe Mann gears up for political comeback The Myanmar Times 20th Feb 2019
Thura U Shwe Mann, a consummate politician who remains undaunted by the vagaries of politics, is now climbing back to the top and appears to be ready to play a major role in the country’s nebulous political landscape. Once a general and the third most powerful member of the military government during Myanmar’s transition to democracy, he hung up his uniform to join the parliamentary election in 2010 and eventually became speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House). He had very good relations with both the country’s leader and the opposition leader at the time, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

New 45-Member Parliamentary Committee to Create Bill Amending Myanmar’s Constitution Radio Free Asia 19th Feb 2019
Myanmar’s parliament on Tuesday approved the creation of a 45-member joint committee to write a bill to amend the army-drafted 2008 constitution that the current government views as undemocratic, despite opposition by lawmakers from the military and the main opposition party, legislators said. Before the voting began, several members of parliament, including a military legislator, made requests to discuss the issue during the parliamentary meeting, but parliamentary speaker T Khun Myat rejected them.

Week in Review: Jumping on the charter amendment bandwagon The Myanmar Times 15th Feb 2019
The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) on Wednesday proposed to draft a bill amending the Constitution to allow the election of chief ministers. U Thaung Aye, the party’s MP for Pyawbwe township in Mandalay Region, said the USDP wants to amend four of the five subsections under Section 261 of the constitution relating to the appointment of chief ministers.

Myanmar Court Sentences Two Men to Death for Killing of Suu Kyi Aide Wall Street Journal 15th Feb 2019
Two years after an adviser to Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was assassinated outside the country’s main international airport, a court handed down death sentences for two men, including the gunman who fired the fatal bullet at close range in front of the victim’s grandchild. Ko Ni was a vocal advocate for a diminished military role in the country. His killing shook Myanmar and has become an enduring symbol of its struggles in establishing democracy after a long period of military dominance.

USDP submits own proposal to amend 2008 Constitution The Myanmar Times 14th Feb 2019
The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) proposed to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (bicameral legislature) on Wednesday to draft a bill to amend the Constitution to allow the election of chief ministers. U Thaung Aye, the party’s MP for Pyawbwe township, Mandalay Region, said, “The constitution has over 400 provisions covering the appointment of chief ministers. It is too centralised and does not provide equal rights for ethnic people.”

ANALYSIS-In Myanmar, new parties challenge Suu Kyi's grip on power Reuters 14th Feb 2019
New political groups are emerging to contest Myanmar's next election in 2020, aiming to challenge the hegemony of national civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi after she has been weakened by escalating ethnic conflicts and slowing economic growth. Those factors were blamed by party officials for the poor performance of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) in by-elections in November, when it won only seven of the 13 seats up for grabs as regional and army-linked parties made gains.

Japan envoy says development is solution for Rakhine The Myanmar Times 9th Feb 2019
Japan’s top envoy to Myanmar said that economic development is an answer to Rakhine’s conflict and that Tokyo is considering providing aid for the state. “If there is economic development, I believe that there will be no conflict,” Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Maruyama said ahead of a Japan-backed investment fair in Ngapali. The first Rakhine Investment Fair will be held on February 21 and 23, supported by the Myanmar Investment Commission and the Rakhine state government, and co-organised by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).

Myanmar Consumer Protection Law Update: Product Labelling Requirement JD Supra 9th Feb 2019
The Central Consumer Protection Committee Notification No. 1/2018 dated 26 October 2018 (the ‘Notification’) imposes a requirement for labels to be affixed to certain products sold in Myanmar, so as to ensure the safety of consumers.

Time to Abolish Ministries’ ‘Other Accounts’: NLD Lawmaker The Irrawaddy 8th Feb 2019
A National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker has called for the abolition of the so-called “other accounts” (OAs) held by government ministries and agencies. In Parliament on Thursday, NLD Lower House lawmaker Daw Thet Thet Khaing asked what measures the government was taking to improve transparency in the reporting of revenue by the country’s extractive industries, and to ensure that state enterprises’ revenue ended up in the Union budget. The Lower House in November 2017 approved a proposal by Daw Thet Thet Khaing to ensure such transparency, including greater scrutiny of revenue transfers into the Union budget by enterprises under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

USAID pledges $72m to boost Myanmar media, civil society, communities The Myanmar Times 8th Feb 2019
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will fund two five-year projects aimed at boosting Myanmar’s democratic transition through the strengthening of the media, civil society and local communities, according to a statement of the US Embassy. The projects, with a budget of nearly US$72 million (K108 billion), will specifically focus on helping local communities in restive Rakhine, Kachin and northern Shan states to recover from the natural disasters, and conflict. 

Customs

Two new customs offices designated under ASEAN agreement The Myanmar Times 13th Feb 2019
U Maung Maung Win told the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (bicameral legislature) on Monday about the two new offices, which were set up as part of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit.  The new offices, which will be under the authority of the Customs Department, are aimed at speeding the flow of goods via roads in transit countries along ASEAN’s South-North Corridor, which connects Singapore to Thailand and Laos.

Customs clearance system gets updates Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 9th Feb 2019
The central bank will regulate the rules for the inflow of export earnings and the payment of money for exports via the bank, said Bo Bo Nge, the Deputy-Governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar at a press conference held at Central Bank of Myanmar in Yangon on January 6. Slight updates will be made to the customs clearance system introduced since November, 2017. Thereafter, the central will take actions, he added. According to the figures from the Commerce Ministry, from October 1, 2018 to January 11, 2019 of 2018-19 fiscal year, the total external trade value hit 9115.433 million USD, up 184.041 million compared with the same period last year. During this FY, the total export earnings hit over 4062.558 million USD while the import value amounted to 5092.885 million USD. There was a trade deficit of over one billion USD. Myanmar’s major export items are farm, animal, marine, forest, mining, CMP and other products. Myanmar imports capital goods, raw materials, personal goods and CMP raw materials, according to the Commerce Ministry. Dr. Than Myint, Union Commerce Minister said the country needs to promote the quality and quantity of export items and import more capital goods which will help support the sustainable economic development.

Economics

US businesses eye investment opportunities in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 20th Feb 2019
US investors are showing interest in Myanmar following recent efforts to open up and regulate several sectors of the economy, such as banking and finance, and education.Last Thursday, US Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel met with businessmen from the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce (UMFCCI) to discuss potential investment opportunities available to US businesses.  The US has already sent delegations to Myanmar to review opportunities following the recent slew of reforms in the banking and finance sector, according to the UMFCCI. 

High expectations, low confidence at Invest Myanmar Summit Frontier Myanmar 20th Feb 2019
The Government tried hard to woo big spenders at the recent Invest Myanmar Summit, which focused on attracting foreign investment in about 200 projects altogether worth US$20 billion over the next 20 years, mainly in infrastructure development. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered the opening speech at the event in Nay Pyi Taw on January 28 and 29, which saw an unprecedented turnout of 12 Union ministers, 10 regional ministers, and more than 150 regional and state representatives, and attracted nearly 1,600 participants.

Singapore leads FDI list Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 19th Feb 2019
Singapore has topped the list of foreign investments with over 20 billion USD, which accounts for more than 26 per cent of the total foreign investment, according to Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). From 1988-89 to 2018-19 fiscal year, the total foreign investment hit nearly 79 billion USD.

Infographic: The Suu Kyi Government’s Performance in Numbers The Irrawaddy 15th Feb 2019
INearly three years after taking office, the National League for Democracy (NLD) has garnered mixed reviews for its efforts to transform the country into a democracy. While campaigning for the 2015 elections that swept it to power, the NLD published a 20-page manifesto outlining its plans for economic development, constitutional reform and peace.

Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Myanmar: 2018 Overview JD Supra 11th Feb 2019
FDIs in Myanmar rose by close to 45 per cent to an estimated value of USD4 billion. This is the third consecutive year of increase in FDIs. Strong investments from the ASEAN region pushed this increase. Key sectors with strong FDI growth are the extractive industry, manufacturing industry, services industry and infrastructure sector.

Japan to Take Leading Role in Pushing FDI in Rakhine The Irrawaddy 8th Feb 2019
The Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar revealed his government’s plan to boost economic development in Myanmar’s most troubled and impoverished Rakhine State by backing the upcoming investment fair there and by pushing Japanese investors to consider opportunities there. Despite Rakhine’s tarnished reputation due to the Rohingya crisis and ongoing armed conflict, the government is desperately seeking foreign investment in the state as a means of improving economic development and thus solving the state’s issues. With the slogan “Rakhine is open for business to the world,” the Myanmar Investment Commission and the Rakhine state government is set to kick off the first Rakhine Investment Fair on Feb. 21 and 23, with a Japanese government agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) acting as co-organizers of the fair.

Foreign business leaders join call for investments in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 8th Feb 2019
The leaders of seven foreign business groups in Yangon have signed an open letter calling on investors abroad to put their money in Myanmar, stressing the critical role foreign direct investment (FDI) plays in the country’s transition. “Having been in isolation for so long, Myanmar now requires the broad regeneration of its economy to meet the demands of modern-day trade. As a result, there exists a significant range of private sector investment opportunities across every sector of the economy,” the letter said, citing the opportunities presented in the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP) which was announced by Nay Pyi Taw last year. It was co-signed by the British, Australian, American, European, Italian, German and French chambers of commerce in Myanmar. These groups together have more than 600 companies from over 30 countries.

Energy

Govt. to implement Nantpanga hydropower project in Homalin Eleven Media 20th Feb 2019
Sagaing Region government is planning to implement Nantpanga hydropower project worth over Ks 20 billion in Homalin Township. The project is expected to generate four megawatts of electricity and six billion Kyats has been prepared for the project for this financial year. The ministry will call for tender soon, said Soe Oo, the regional minister for finance on February 11.

Frontier Markets Investment Portfolio: A Mining Site in Northern Myanmar Frontera 19th Feb 2019
The National League for Democracy (NLD) seems to have potentially finally come to the realization that the economy is suffering and therefore that their party is at risk of losing a number of seats in the 2020 elections. This has led the NLD to liberalize several sectors of the economy recently, namely allowing foreign banks to lend locally and announcing the liberalization of the insurance sector from 1st April 2019 while holding the Invest Myanmar conference in Naypyidaw at the end of January where Aung San Suu Kyi marketed the country as being open for business.

Three regions petition against Myintsone project Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 8th Feb 2019
The signature campaign for the termination of the Myitsone dam project being conducted by May Myanmar Be Peaceful Network in Ayeyawady, Magway and Bago regions will last till the end of February and the signatures will be sent to State leaders. "Public signatures will be sent to the President, the State Counsellor and the Union Parliament," said Kyaw Hlaing Win, Yesagyo Township in-charge of the network in Magway Region. He said signatures would be collected in the townships of Seikphyu, Thayet, Aunglan, Kamma, Yesagyo, Salin and Taungdwingyi of Magway Region.

Ministry implements first phase of NEP Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 10th Feb 2019
According to the National Electrification Project (NEP), the ministry has started implementing the first phase of power supply project to electrify 5,080 villages with a two-mile radius of the national power grid, in January, 2019, said Union Minister for Electricity and Energy Win Khaing. Upon completion of the first phase project, about 626,757 households in 5,080 villages will have electricity access. The ministry is implementing the first phase project with a loan of 310 million USD from the World Bank. The second phase is to electrify villages within a five-mile radius of national power grid. The second phase project is projected to complete in September, 2021. Upon completion of the first and second phases, about 1,032,411 households in 8,537 villages will have access to electricity. Thanks to it, the total electrification rate will increase by around 9.5 per cent and the nationwide electrification rate by 55 per cent. The Union Minister urged officials and companies to make efforts for the completion of projects within the designated period and worksite safety. The ministry has set a goal of achieving the universal access to electricity by 2030. The ministry plans to increase the power generation to 55 per cent in 2020 and 75 per cent in 2025.

Financial Services

CBM headed in right direction, bank development expected: experts The Myanmar Times 15th Feb 2019
The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) has begun taking the initial steps to stand as an independent body, local financial experts and economists say. They added that recent actions taken by CBM early this year are seen as effective for the development of the banking sector. The CBM has started the year strong by preparing to tackle illegal money transfers and implement a national payment system.

Bankers seek clarity over foreign equity in Myanmar banks The Myanmar Times 12th Feb 2019
The latest regulation by the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) permitting foreign institutions to invest up to 35 percent in local banks has been well-received by the banking and financial industry. However, experts have flagged the need for further clarity in its provisions. U Than Lwin, senior advisor to KBZ Bank, said the CBM should further clarify if foreign banks are allowed to invest solely in public banks or if they are free to invest in private banks or family-owned banks. 

Food & Agriculture

FAO assists Myanmar to improve food security vietnamplus.vn 20th Feb 2019
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Myanmar government have signed a multi-year framework agreement to improve nutrition and food security in the country while safeguarding and sustainably managing the use of natural resources.

With 'on-the-go' loans and tech, social firm boosts Myanmar farmers Reuters 12th Feb 2019
A social venture in Myanmar is boosting farm outputs with customised technologies and giving loans for seasonal migration to raise incomes in one of the world’s poorest countries. Proximity Designs, which was set up in 2004 in the country’s commercial hub Yangon, focuses on farming, on which more than two-thirds of the population relies to make a living. The ethical business gives farming advice, custom-designed irrigation products and loans for crops, livestock and migration to about 200,000 clients in the Southeast Asian nation. “It’s about improving access of smallholder farmers to knowledge, technology and capital,” said Ben Warren, head of strategy and finance at Proximity.

Health & Life Sciences

How to fortify, fast-track public health The Myanmar Times 20th Feb 2019
As one of the world’s most populous and diverse regions, we can be immensely proud of the progress made, the outcomes achieved, and the lives saved and improved over the past five years. Indeed, through their tenacity and resolve, each of the region’s member states has demonstrated that good health and well-being must be at the very core of development and national progress, that the human right to health matters as a good in itself and is a powerful means to shore-up economic development and the human capital it relies on.

Myanmar facing 'public health disaster' as children as young as 9 get hooked on meth The Straits Times 20th Feb 2019
Mobs of stick-wielding church-goers in Myanmar's northeast used to descend on dealers and addicts in a desperate effort to save their communities from a meth-induced health crisis sweeping the country. But anonymous death threats brought the vigilante operations to a halt. "It simply became too dangerous for us," says Zau Man, leader of the local Baptist church in Kutkai, a town in Shan State scarred by addiction.

ICT

Connect to Learn: Exploring VR in the classroom of tomorrow Ericsson 20th Feb 2019
Myanmar has usually focused on teacher-centered learning in the past, which makes the use of VR classrooms an exciting development, and something which can change the classroom dynamic in years to come. Typically, students will listen to teachers without asking a lot of questions. With this technology, student-centered learning is encouraged and this is one of the most import things that will allow the methods and standard of education in Myanmar to improve. This will also enable the students to ask questions and do the research on their own, as well as encouraging students to think differently – more creatively. Of course, we believe that this is just the beginning. As VR technology becomes more advanced, its application will eventually increase – not just in Myanmar, but all over the world.

Huawei keen to guide 5G in Myanmar The Nation 20th Feb 2019
HOUGH only 20 per cent of Myanmar’s population have access to 4G services, the nation would be ready to embrace the fifth generation of wireless technology (5G) with the support of Chinese giant Huawei Technologies Co in two or three years, said Zhu Bo, deputy managing director of Huawei Myanmar. “It depends on the requirements of the telecom operators but we will be ready to bring 5G to Myanmar over the next few years,” he said yesterday at a media workshop entitled “Future direction of ICT in Myanmar”.

Infrastructure

Upscale housing project takes shape near Mandalay The Myanmar Times 19th Feb 2019
A housing project to be built in Yay Tagon Taung in Mandalay Region’s Patheingyi township is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs, said the company behind the project. The project site is on 202 hectares of land on a golf course owned by the Mandalay City Development Committee about six kilometres east of Mandalay city.

State Counselor Vows Proper Scrutiny of all BRI Projects in Myanmar The Irrawaddy 19th Feb 2019
Thorough scrutiny of the projects under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is needed to assess their likely short- and long-term impacts on the country and the public, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said on Monday at the first meeting of a committee tasked with overseeing implementation of the projects. During her first meeting with members of the Steering Committee for Implementation of the BRI in Myanmar, held in Naypyitaw, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who chairs the panel, emphasized the need “to make sure that the selected projects are in conformity with national plans, policies and domestic procedures.”

New Yangon City Project: China, CCCC and Myanmar’s profits Eleven Media 18th Feb 2019
If we were to take a look back at the New Yangon City Development Master Plan (hereinafter referred to as the Yangon City Project), one will find that it is directly linked to China’s mega-infrastructure project that is the One Belt One Road (OBOR). Since the “new city” will be built at a location able to easily access the sea, it is one of the most important routes for OBOR. Since the conception of the Yangon City Project, there has been pointed remarks as to prevent possible money laundering, to drown in debts owed to China as well as not to generally be the sacrificial candle that will give light to other nations except ours. Despite criticisms, the project had went ahead with rights given to China Communications and Construction Company (CCCC) with Myanmar gaining extremely slim margins of only 5 per cent and China 95.

Japan-backed bridge project begins in Yangon The Myanmar Times 15th Feb 2019
Construction of a Japan-funded bridge in Myanmar, seen as a symbol of competing interests between China and Japan, kicked off Wednesday with a groundbreaking ceremony in Yangon, the country’s commercial capital. The bridge, funded by a ¥31 billion (K427.5 billion) low-interest loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, will be constructed over the Bago River next to one that was built with Chinese aid more than two decades ago. According to JICA, a key objective of the project is to ensure smooth access to and active investment in the Japanese-backed Thilawa Special Economic Zone in Thanlyin township, just southeast of Yangon, which has so far attracted more than $1.5 billion (K2.3 trillion) in investment.

Myanmar aims urban planning for over 330 towns by 2030: Union Minister Eleven Media 13th Feb 2019
Myanmar is aiming to have systematic urban planning for over 330 towns across the country by 2030, said Han Zaw, Union Minister for Construction on February 10. “The objectives of the ministry are to build 18 feet wide and 41,111 kilometers long concrete and tar roads to meet ASEAN standards, to build all concrete bridges with 24 feet width with two lanes road, to build towns with systematic urban planning and to build one million apartments owned by public and private sectors in the towns in 2030,” said the minister.

Water, traffic projects set to improve Yangon The Myanmar Times 12th Feb 2019
Yangon has been striving to cope with the demands of modernisation ever since the military junta that ruled the country for over half a century gave way to the pressure of reforms nearly a decade ago. The city’s ageing infrastructure, some of which dates back to the British colonial era, is unable to light up new highrise buildings, fails to supply sufficient potable water to the sudden influx of local and foreign migrants, its traffic system or the lack of it, utterly helpless to manage the surge in the number of vehicles.


Travel & Tourism

Mdy Region gov’t issuing tourist permits for Mogok Global New Light Of Myanmar 11th Feb 2019
The Mandalay Regional government is now issuing permits to tourists seeking to visit Mogok region, said U Myo Thit, the region’s Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. Thanks to the move, travellers will not have to wait long for permits, he said “Previously, visitors had to submit an application in Nay Pyi Taw to visit Mogok. Then, they had to wait for one month or one and a half months for the permission. Now, permission is being granted by the regional government. So, tourists can now get permits to visit Mogok within five days,” the minister said. Tourists planning to travel to the region now have to submit the dates of their visit, location of their hotel, and personal information of their licensed tour guide to the Mandalay Region’s Directorate of Hotels and Tourism. Mogok has been well-known for decades for its gemstones, especially ruby and sapphire. Most tourists visit the area to learn how ruby and other gemstones are mined.