Myanmar Update: April 27, 2020

Myanmar Update | April 27, 2020
Authors: Jack Myint & Ingyin
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

April 28Data Governance Sub-Committee Call on ASEAN Digital Data Governance Framework

April 28Japan-United States Energy Partnership (JUSEP): Financing and Commercial Engagement Tools to Facilitate Investment within the Energy Sector in Indo-Pacific

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Myanmar receives US$ 50 million from the World Bank

On April 20, the World Bank announced its plans to assist the Myanmar COVID-19 Emergency Response Project  by providing US$50 million as part of its global emergency response operations. Further, funds from the World Bank’s Essential Health Project of Myanmar, launched in 2015, have been redeployed to aid efforts to face challenges posed by covid-19.

The new loan of US$ 50 million will be directed towards eight central hospitals and forty-three state and region level hospitals in densely populated areas or places that experience mass and frequent migration. Upscaling ICUs in the country would be prioritized along with building capacity among healthcare workers, and promoting community engagement. It is understood that the actual implementation of the measures would be carried out by personnel from the Union Ministry of Health and Sports.

In early April, the World Bank pledged US$160 billion to be rolled out in phased measures spanning over 15 months, to assist developing nations in their fight against the coronavirus. Thus, far, the first phase has entailed $1.9 billion for 25 countries, with fast-tracked operations already moving forward in over 40 countries.

Updated Covid-19 Measures

On March 30, the Myanmar President Office announced the establishment of “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19) Containment and Emergency Responsive Committee” – a new government body comprised of 10 officials from key ministries tasked with the handling persons infected with COVID-19. Led by Vice President U Myint Swe and Union Ministers of key branches of the government (Border Affairs; Home Affairs; Defense; Labour, Immigration, and Population), the committee is tasked with coordinating a cohesive response to the coronavirus by including various government and non-governmental organizations. 

The following provides an updated list of measures adopted by the Myanmar Government in its response to the pandemic.

Central Bank of Myanmar

On Match 24, the Central Bank of Myanmar issued a directive that reduces its annual bank rate from 9.5% to 8.5% in order to spur economic growth.

Government Offices

50% of the civil servant workforce has been directed to work at the office, while the other half be on stand-by at home. Rotational arrangements are implemented as precautionary measures.

Health

The Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) has issued guidelines detailing quarantine etiquette as well as social-distancing recommendations. These announcements are readily available on the MOHS official Facebook page to ensure all locals have access to correct and valid guidelines. Social gatherings of more than five persons have also been prohibited.  

Industry

The Ministry of Labour has extended the closure of factories until April 30th, to carry out safety inspections. Priority of inspections would be given to pharmaceutical plants, followed up food and beverage production facilities.  

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement will provide compensation for employees registered on the government’s social safety net, whose factory jobs have been halted until April 30th. It is understood that exact payment calculations are still being determined by relevant officials.

Active construction sites are also limited to a maximum of 50 workers each shift to ensure daily tracking of personnel and possibility of social distancing. 

The Ministry of Health and Sports has also issued comprehensive instructions applicable to workplaces such as factories and construction sites. The guidelines stress the requirement of temperature checks and implementation of adequate hygiene stations in the workplace as well as daily thorough sanitation; additionally, the Ministry also recommends at least one meter of distance between each employee as adherence to mitigate the spread of the virus. 
Movement

Beginning April 17, the Government has imposed a nighttime curfew (10pm – 4am) in four regions of Myanmar including Yangon. Although no formal end-date has been announced for the curfews, the Yangon Regional Government stated that the restriction would last until June 18.

Stimulus Package

On March 18, the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry announced an initial economic stimulus totaling 100 billion Kyats (US$70 million); the fund will primarily assist the garment and manufacturing sector, hotel and tourism businesses, as well as local SMEs. Details on the COVID-19 fund can be found in the Council’s recent analytical update here.

Trade

​The Ministry of Commerce prohibits hoarding and price gauging of products deemed essential in critical times; these items include healthcare support items as required to fight against covid-19, food supplies, medicines. Violation of these restrictions is subjected to a jail time of six months to three years, and a fine not exceeding 500,000 Kyats. 

The Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry issued a directive to exempt 2% income tax levy for exports until the 2019-2020 fiscal year. 

Travel
Under the directive of the Ministry of Transport and Communication, the Department of Civil Aviation has extended the suspension of inbound international flights until April 30.

Issuance of e-visas and visas-on-arrival have been suspended until April 30.

For repatriated personnel and/or migrant workers returning from neighboring countries, quarantine measures vary among 21 days in facility and hotel quarantine with an additional 7 days of home quarantine.

As of April 27, the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports reported 146 positive cases, with 5 deaths thus far.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

National Affairs
Govt to fly home Myanmar citizens stranded in five Asian states
Driver killed in attack on UN vehicle in Myanmar's Rakhine
Myanmar State Counsellor hails benefits of social media
COVID-19 cases rise to 119
Myanmar Workforce Promised Govt Payments During COVID-19 Factory Closures
Myanmar President Orders State, Regional Govts to Battle Hate Speech Amid COVID-19 Fight

ASEAN
Response Fund to be created by Asean to cushion COVID-19’s impact in the region
Collective efforts needed for rebound in Asean’s growth, says AMRO

COVID-19
Quarantine period increased to 21, commercial flight arrivals suspended until April 30: DASSK
Myanmar Pharma Firm Donates Device to Massively Increase COVID-19 Testing

Economics
Myanmar considers applying for IMF financing to get through COVID-19
Some customs restrictions to be eased to facilitate trade
Myanmar participates in inaugural WEF COVID-19 Action Platform for Asia Pacific
YSX sees more foreign trading, announces measures to draw more listings
Myanmar economy still forecast to grow despite global recession: IMF
World Bank cuts growth forecast, urges focus on health sector

Energy

+ Govt extends power bill payment deadline in Yangon
Toshiba Wins Order for Power Generation Equipment for Myanmar's Sedawgyi Hydropower Plant Rehabilitation Project
Myanmar to face power shortages as emergency plants miss deadlines


Financial Services
Central Bank extends regulation compliance deadline to 2023
Non-bank lenders asked to allow delayed repayments for struggling borrowers
Myanmar opens up to seven more Asian banks
+ Myanmar allows Korean and Thai banks' entry to boost investment
Myanmar banks to adjust hours 


Food & Agriculture
Govt to beef up rice and palm oil reserves
Myanmar produces around 27 million tons of paddies annually
Myanmar receives 6.7 mln USD from China under LMC Special Fund
Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank cuts interest rates
Myanmar temporarily suspends rice export permits
Mandalay growers expect no shortages of eggs, chickens

Health & Life Sciences
Mandalay prepares new lab for COVID-19 testing
World Bank to lend $50 mln in Fast-Track Financing for Fighting COVID-19 in Myanmar
Myanmar eyeing investment projects involving masks and pharmaceuticals

ICT
+ Apple expands services business to markets in Africa and beyond
+Telenor follows Myanmar orders to block alleged 'fake news' sites
+Ooredoo supporting communication in Myanmar's response to fight covid-19


Infrastructure
Govt to build new ports with assistance from Japan
Pandemic delays construction of Tarmwe market
South Korea govt vows to see projects through in Myanmar
Japan to provide Y47.94 billion for two infrastructure projects

Manufacturing
Myanmar Factories Ignoring COVID-19 Rules Face Prosecution: Suu Kyi

Travel & Tourism
Myanmar hotel industry receives another lifeline
Companies to receive COVID-19 loans, but discrepancies hamper number of approvals
 

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

Govt to fly home Myanmar citizens stranded in five Asian states The Myanmar Times 26th Apr 2020
The aviation department said it will carry out relief flights in next month for Myanmar citizens stranded in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Bangkok, and India. The airlines available for the mercy mission are All Nippon Airways, Myanmar National Airlines (MNA), and Myanmar Airways International (MAI).

Driver killed in attack on UN vehicle in Myanmar's Rakhine Frontier Myanmar 21st Apr 2020
A Myanmar government health worker was injured and his driver killed when their United Nations-marked vehicle was ambushed as they were carrying COVID-19 test samples in conflict-ridden Rakhine State, the UN said Tuesday. The country's northwest has been embroiled in an increasingly brutal civil war between Myanmar's military and Arakan Army rebels demanding more autonomy for the state's ethnic Rakhine population. Both the military and insurgents blamed each other for the attack, which happened early Monday evening at a bridge near the town of Minbya.

Myanmar State Counsellor hails benefits of social media The Myanmar Times 21st Apr 2020
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said on April 21, lauded the benefits provided by the social media in reaching out to the people and directly communicating with them. She said live video streaming technology used by social media sites has helped a lot in reaching people and discussing their needs on how to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19.

COVID-19 cases rise to 119 Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 21st Apr 2020
The National Health Laboratory (Yangon) released the test results of the first batch of 181 lab specimens on 20-4-20 where 6 tested positive for COVID-19 and 175 tested negative, state media reported.

Myanmar Workforce Promised Govt Payments During COVID-19 Factory Closures The Irrawaddy 21st Apr 2020
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement will provide certain social security benefits for workers at factories that will have to close until April 30, according to director-general U Nyunt Win of the ministry. The compensation scheme follows the ministry’s announcement on Sunday that factories will have to close for inspection until April 20 to check COVID-19 preparations. The government is still determining how to calculate the social security payments. However, only employees who are registered on the government’s social safety net will be entitled to payments.

Myanmar President Orders State, Regional Govts to Battle Hate Speech Amid COVID-19 Fight The Irrawaddy 21st Apr 2020
Myanmar’s President has ordered state and regional governments to encourage government employees to participate in anti-hate speech activities amid a rise in social media comments accusing certain groups of spreading COVID-19. The order, signed by the permanent secretary of the President’s Office, states that everyone has the right to be treated with respect and to live without fear of violence, intimidation or discrimination based on group identity or personal characteristics.

ASEAN

Response Fund to be created by Asean to cushion COVID-19’s impact in the region Khmer Times 10th Apr 2020
In the 25th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting via video conference Thursday, ASEAN foreign ministers agreed on the establishment of a response to help all member states alleviate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The objectives behind the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, according to a press release from Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, is to mobilise financial resources to address the shortage in medical supplies and to support the research and development of COVID-19. The fund also aims to prepare the member state for responding to future emergencies.

Collective efforts needed for rebound in Asean’s growth, says AMRO The Edge Singapore 8th Apr 2020
SINGAPORE (Apr 8): The Asean + 3 Macroeconomic Review Office (AMRO) has slashed its 2020 growth forecast for Asean + 3 nations to 2%, from its previous prediction of 4.9%. The macroeconomic watchdog which monitors Asean, Japan, China and Korea says the upgrade follows the uncertainty from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it expects growth in the region to have a strong rebound to 5.5% in 2021 once the health and economic crises abate. Meanwhile, Asean economies are expected to weaken sharply to grow at an average of 1.1% before recovering to 5.2% in 2021. The data was unveiled by AMRO’s chief economist Khor Hoe Ee in an outlook briefing on Tuesday. Touching on how the data was arrived at, Khor said that preparations for this outlook forecast was “almost impossible”, despite this being the watchdog’s fourth iteration.

COVID-19

Quarantine period increased to 21, commercial flight arrivals suspended until April 30: DASSK The Myanmar Times 11th Apr 2020
Those who test positive for COVID-19 will now be quarantined for 21 days, up from 14 days before, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi announced on her Facebook account on April 10. All international commercial flight arrivals have also been suspended until April 30. This supercedes a March 29 announcement from the Ministry of Health and Sports and Department of Civil Aviation, disallowing all international commercial passenger flights from landing at all Myanmar airports from March 30 to April 13.

Myanmar Pharma Firm Donates Device to Massively Increase COVID-19 Testing The Irrawaddy 6th Apr 2020
Myanmar’s largest pharmaceutical distribution company donated a new COVID-19 testing machine to the country’s health ministry on Sunday that can run more than 1,400 tests per day, a major increase from the government’s current testing capacity of around 80 tests per day. The donation is one of many by conglomerates in the country, as companies have donated medical supplies such as masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as money to support the government in combatting the spread of COVID-19.

Economics

Myanmar considers applying for IMF financing to get through COVID-19 The Myanmar Times 26th Apr 2020
The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) and the Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Industry are considering applying for financing options provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), CBM governor U Kyaw Kyaw Maung said. The IMF on April 24 held a meeting via teleconference with the ASEAN countries. U Kyaw Kyaw Maung attended and discussed the negative impact COVID-19 is having on the Myanmar economy and how the country has responded so far.

Some customs restrictions to be eased to facilitate trade The Myanmar Times 22nd Apr 2020
Starting April 20, the customs department will reduce customs duties for businesses operating with the Myanmar Automated Cargo Clearance System (MACCS). Paperwork will also be streamlined, with an electronic version of Form D for preferential tariff treatment in Asean to be issued to simplify procedures between all the Asean countries. Those who want to apply for customs duty reductions will have to submit the e-Form D together with the reference number granted by other country.

Myanmar participates in inaugural WEF COVID-19 Action Platform for Asia Pacific Global New Light Of Myanmar 21st Apr 2020
U Thaung Tun, Union Minister of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, participated via videoconference in the inaugural COVID-19 Action Platform for the Asia Pacific organized by the World Economic Forum (WEF), acting as a partner to the World Health Organization (WHO).The WEF Action Platform provides a virtua l senior leaders’ community spanning government, business and academia who will meet regularly to address critical issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis. The videoconference provided participants with an opportunity to exchange perspectives and share insights designed to strengthen regional resilience, develop coordinated responses, and enhance public-private cooperation in the fight against COVID-19.

YSX sees more foreign trading, announces measures to draw more listings The Myanmar Times 21st Apr 2020
The number of foreigners buying shares on the Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX) has been increasing since foreign trading was permitted for the first time in Myanmar last month. Between March 22 and April 20, foreigners scooped up a total of 2,002 shares of First Myanmar Investment Public Co (FMI) and 4,460 shares of Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings (MTSH). Shares of all five companies listed on the YSX closed April 20 higher compared to the start of the month. To become listed on the YSX, companies have to meet required criteria set by the SECM. The companies and their applications are then examined to see if they meet the criteria. If they fall short of the criteria, their application will be rejected. Documentation charges for company applications are K1 million.

Myanmar economy still forecast to grow despite global recession: IMF The Myanmar Times 20th Apr 2020
Myanmar is among just 10 percent of the globe projected by the International Monetary Fund to post economic growth this year. The rest of the world is expected to slip into recession. Still, growth is forecast to slow considerably. In its April World Economic Outlook, the IMF slashed Myanmar’s 2020 growth forecast to 1.8pc from 6.4pc.  This would be Myanmar’s slowest growth rate since the junta handed over power to U Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government in 2011. The economy has already been hurt by the crisis, with the number of factories having shut down in Myanmar estimated to be around 40 and nearly 17,000 workers laid off or furloughed. Microfinance and other non-bank financial institutions have been instructed to allow borrowers to defer their repayments. On the business side, licence fees exemptions have been granted to hoteliers and traders, while a K100 billion soft loan was launched last month, targeting the most affected sectors - tourism and garments - as well as small and medium enterprises.

World Bank cuts growth forecast, urges focus on health sector Frontier Myanmar 3rd Apr 2020
Myanmar is better-placed than most countries in the region to weather the looming global economic downturn sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank says, but needs to focus on deploying resources to the health sector and softening the blow to individuals and businesses. The World Bank has downgraded Myanmar’s GDP growth forecast for 2019-20 fiscal year to between 2.0 and 3.0 percent, down from 6.3pc, but is still anticipating higher growth rates in Myanmar than most developing economies in the East Asia and Pacific region. Myanmar’s economic growth is expected to return to between 4.0 and 6.0pc in 2020-21, but the World Bank also warned that Myanmar faces significant downside risks due to uncertainty over how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, and the scale of a domestic outbreak.

Energy

Govt extends power bill payment deadline in Yangon The Myanmar Times 20th Apr 2020
The Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation (YESC) has announced it has extended its March electricity bill payment deadline to until May 20; this is to avoid unnecessary mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, there will also be no late fees collected as well as no power cuts for those who don’t pay after the original deadline, which is between April 20 and 28.

Toshiba Wins Order for Power Generation Equipment for Myanmar's Sedawgyi Hydropower Plant Rehabilitation Project Oil & Gas 360 14th Apr 2020
Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation announced today that it received an order for two units of an approximately 14 MW hydro turbines and a control system from the Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the main contractor in a project to rehabilitate the Sedawgyi Hydropower Plant being undertaken by the Myanmar Ministry of Electricity and Energy-affiliated Electric Power Generation Enterprise. The hydro turbines will be rehabilitated using the existing parts and newly supplied ones such as runners, and the control system will be replaced incorporating the latest technology.

Myanmar to face power shortages as emergency plants miss deadlines The Myanmar Times 5th April 2020
Several VPower-backed power plants (by Hong Kong-listed VPower) designed to reduce Myanmar's power blackouts this summer have missed the government's deadline, implying that the country is still short of 1070MW of energy than originally planned even as summer approaches. Developers attribute the delay to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Financial Services

Central Bank extends regulation compliance deadline to 2023 The Myanmar Times 24th Apr 2020
Banks now have until August 31, 2023 to comply with Notification No. (16/2017) Capital Adequacy Regulation, Notification No. (17/2017) Asset Classification and Provisioning Regulations, Notification No. (18/2017) Large Exposures Regulation, and Notification No. (19/2017) Liquidity Ration Requirement Regulation. The original deadline for compliance was August 31, 2020. The CBM said the deadline has been extended to support the banks as the industry takes steps to respond to an economic slowdown wrought by COVID-19.

Non-bank lenders asked to allow delayed repayments for struggling borrowers The Myanmar Times 12th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Planning and Finance’s Microfinance Business Supervisory Committee said on April 6 that neither principal nor interest should be collected “with force”. Microfinance operators in Magwe, Sagaing and Mandalay, have already allowed repayments to be delayed since the end of March.  Over 80 microfinance organisations operate in Yangon Region but only around 10 of them have voluntarily extended repayments in light of the global pandemic. Most of the lenders have weekly repayment arrangements with borrowers. So far, repayments have been deferred for one month on average.

Myanmar opens up to seven more Asian banks The Myanmar Times 9th Apr 2020
Myanmar has granted operating licenses to seven Asian banks, bringing to 20 the number of foreign banks allowed to do business in the previously isolated market. Bank of China (Hong Kong), Taiwan’s Cathay United Bank and Mega International Commercial Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, Seoul-based KB Koomin Bank, Korea Development Bank and Siam Commercial Bank of Thailand were granted preliminary licenses, the central bank’s licensing committee said in a statement on Friday (April 9).

Myanmar allows Korean and Thai banks' entry to boost investment Nikkei Asian Review 16th April 2020
Seven banks from around Asia are to enter Myanmar, raising the prospect that a more active presence by foreign lenders will encourage further inward investment from other industries.
The banks' entry was approved late last week by the Central Bank of Myanmar and are part of efforts to open up the banking industry by the administration led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.They are expected to start Myanmar operations by early 2021 after a licensing procedure.

Myanmar banks to adjust hours  The Star 26th April 2020
Banking has been temporarily reset from 10am to 2pm in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Central Bank of Myanmar. At a video conferencing meeting between the Central Bank of Myanmar and private banks earlier this month, the bank said it would work to curb the virus spread among staff.

Food & Agriculture

Govt to beef up rice and palm oil reserves The Myanmar Times 23rd Apr 2020
The Ministry of Commerce (MOC) announced in an April 22 statement that it will buy and stockpile 50,000 tonnes of rice and 12,000 tonnes of palm oil as reserve food for emergencies. It also added that the ministry will purchase the items at a reasonable price. The ministry is also working on the national reserve food plan with the private sector as well as the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Myanmar Rice Federation and Myanmar Edible Oil Dealers’ Association. 

Myanmar produces around 27 million tons of paddies annually Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 8th Apr 2020
Myanmar has 17.8 million acres of paddy fields and produced around 27 million tons of paddies annually, announced Central Statistics Organization by quoting the Department of Agricultural Land Management and Statistics (DALMS). Myanmar produced over 27.5 million tons of paddies in 2018-19 FY and it broke the record within five-year time, according to the DALMS.

Myanmar receives 6.7 mln USD from China under LMC Special Fund United News of Bangladesh 8th Apr 2020
Myanmar received over 6.7 million U.S. dollars from China under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Special Fund on Monday. The signing ceremony of the agreement on the transfer of fund for LMC Special Fund (2020) projects was held in Myanmar's capital Nay Pyi Taw.

Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank cuts interest rates The Myanmar Times 3rd Apr 2020
The Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank has announced that it will cut its interest rates on loans and savings from 8 pc to 7 pc effective April 1. It will also reduce interest on Japan International Cooperation Agency two-step loans from 8pc to 6.9pc, and interest on Myanmar Economic Bank two-step loans from 9pc to 8pc.

Myanmar temporarily suspends rice export permits The Myanmar Times 3rd Apr 2020
“We are just restricting the issuance of new export licences as a temporary measure until we can change to a better system. But after the new arrangements are in place, the licences will be issued again,” said Department of Trade Director General U Min Min yesterday. Amid speculation that the ministry had banned rice exports, U Min Min explained it was just a transition measure towards a better system. However, he did not provide any information about the new system or when it would be put in place.

Mandalay growers expect no shortages of eggs, chickens The Myanmar Times 3rd Apr 2020
U Kyaw Htin, chair of Myanmar Livestock Federation in Mandalay Region, said production of eggs and chickens will continue despite the pandemic. He said, “Mandalay has more than 2.5 million egg-laying chickens and about 35 million meat chickens.” U Kyaw Htin made the assurances during a recent meeting of government officials and agriculture and livestock growers in the region.

Health & Life Sciences

Mandalay prepares new lab for COVID-19 testing The Myanmar Times 23rd Apr 2020
Mandalay has received its own COVID-19 testing machine from Singapore and aims to start testing patients by the end of May, said U Sai Pan Saing, chair of Regional COVID-19 Information Committee. The machine will be installed on 35th Street, Mandalay, at a laboratory now occupied by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Mandalay Region has issued an announcement that those who come back into the region from states and regions with positive cases of the disease must complete a 21-day compulsory facility quarantine and 7-day home quarantine, effective April 21.

World Bank to lend $50 mln in Fast-Track Financing for Fighting COVID-19 in Myanmar Global New Light Of Myanmar 20th Apr 2020
The World Bank said it has approved a US$50 million credit for the Myanmar COVID-19 Emergency Response Project, as part of global emergency support operations through a dedicated fast-track COVID-19 facility. The project primarily focuses on upscaling of Intensive Care Units (ICU) at selected hospitals, along with capacity building of health staff and officials, and community engagement activities throughout the country. 8 central level hospitals and 43 Region and State level hospitals, across all Regions and States, will be covered, with implementation rolled out in a phased manner, starting with the most at-risk areas, such as densely populated areas and areas with frequent travel and migration.

Myanmar eyeing investment projects involving masks and pharmaceuticals The Star Online 11th Apr 2020
The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) is planning to accept investment projects in manufacturing masks, pharmaceuticals and others which can contribute to the fight against the Covid-19 in the country, state-run media reported Saturday (April 11). At present, of the investment proposals, the industry and labour-based businesses are prioritised by the commission over other sectors, Director-General Thant Sin Lwin of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration was quoted as saying. Submission of the investment proposals to the commission is not affected, with no decrease in number amid the Covid-19 outbreak, he added.

ICT

Apple expands services business to markets in Africa and beyond U.S. 21st Apr 2020
Apple Inc (AAPL.O) on Tuesday said it would expand its App Store, Apple Music and other services to dozens of new markets in Africa, the Middle East and beyond in the biggest geographical expansion of its services in almost a decade. In Africa, the store will expand to Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Libya, Morocco, Rwanda and Zambia. It will also become available in the Maldives and Myanmar in the Asia-Pacific region, Afghanistan and Iraq in the Middle East, and several nations in the Balkans and Oceania, for a total of 175 countries. Apple will have different terms and pricing for streaming music in the new markets. In the new markets, Apple will offer a six-month trial period and adjust monthly prices in Ivory Coast and Myanmar.

Telenor follows Myanmar orders to block alleged 'fake news' sites The Myanmar Times 31st March 2020
Norway’s Telenor says it will follow Myanmar’s other mobile operators and comply with the government’s order to block a list of “fake news” sites, including prominent ethnic media outlets, after initially refusing to do so.Myanmar has directed all four of its mobile operators to block access to a total of 221 websites, but it has not made a list of the sites public or clarified the legal basis for the move.

Ooredoo supporting communication in Myanmar's response to fight covid-19 Mizzima News 25th April 2020
Ooredoo Myanmar, socially responsive telecom operator in Myanmar is playing its part at necessary and essential areas by contributing telecommunications services to the fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic, the company said in a press release. In order to ensure people in quarantine centers to stay connected and stay safe during the outbreak of COVID-19, Ooredoo Myanmar donated over 13,000 SIM cards, loaded with Data and Top-up to Regional and State governments to use for people who are in quarantine centers in Yangon Region, Naypyitaw Council, Kayin and Mon States. Ooredoo is also providing Toll Free call access to Consultation Call Centres to seek advices and spoke persons who are dedicated for inquires or to share update information of COVID-19. 

Infrastructure

Govt to build new ports with assistance from Japan The Myanmar Times 20th Apr 2020
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) is planning to build new port terminals with financial assistance from the Japanese Government, minister U Thant Sin Maung said. Myanmar has nine ports located in Yangon Region, Ayeyarwaddy Region, Mon State, Tanintharyi Region, and Rakhine State along the coast of the country. The Port of Yangon is the major port of the country and handles about 90 percent of the country’s exports and imports. The MOTC is also planning to build new inland water ports in Mandalay, Monywa in Sagaing Region, Pakokku in Magway Region, and Bhamo in Kachin State.

Pandemic delays construction of Tarmwe market The Myanmar Times 8th Apr 2020
The construction of the Tarmwe township market in Yangon will be further delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said. The planning is almost done for the construction of temporary stalls for shop owners, said U Hla Thein, a regional MP for Tarmwe. He said that even if the 600 temporary stalls are completed, the construction of the market could not start immediately as everybody in the country is focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19.

South Korea govt vows to see projects through in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 2nd April 2020
South Korea sees "immense potential" in Myanmar as the last frontier market in ASEAN under President Moon Jae-In's New Southern Policy. Though the coronavirus poses an unforseen challenge for South Korean businesses here, they have confidence that the economic setbacks would not last, South Korean Ambassador to Myanmar Lee Sang-hwa said in a recent interview.

Japan to provide Y47.94 billion for two infrastructure projects The Myanmar Times 2nd April 2020
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Myanmar's government on Tuesday agreed to official development assistance (ODA) loans to contribute to economic and social development through improvements to the railway system and electricity.

Manufacturing

Myanmar Factories Ignoring COVID-19 Rules Face Prosecution: Suu Kyi The Irrawaddy 22nd Apr 2020
Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi says factories will face legal action if they defy COVID-19 instructions. The government’s instructions are not issued for pleasure. We do not want factories to close. It creates a burden for the government and the workforce. We have only ordered factory closures when necessary,” said the State Counselor. The Ministry of Labor ordered all factories to close until April 30 and only reopen when COVID-19 preventive measures had been inspected.

Travel & Tourism

Myanmar hotel industry receives another lifeline The Myanmar Times 23rd Apr 2020
The government will defer land lease payments for six months for a total of 47 state-owned and private hotels in Myanmar to ease the pressure wrought by COVID-19, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism announced on April 21. The next land lease payment is due September 30. Hotels which are no longer in operation are not included.

Companies to receive COVID-19 loans, but discrepancies hamper number of approvals The Myanmar Times 12th Apr 2020
The government has approved COVID-19 loans for 88 businesses at an interest rate of 1 percent, according to the Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). But the UMFCCI received more than 1600 applications for the loan on the April 9 deadline. According to U Naung Naung Han, chair of the Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, there are discrepancies between most of the applicants’ financial reports and the loan amounts they are asking for, which has made it difficult for the authorities to approve loans for the majority of applicants.  He said most tour companies are applying for loans under K50 million, while some hotels require loans of K100 million or more, depending on the number of employees.