Expanding urban population changes property needs

Cities are growing twice as fast as the total population and will be crucial for Myanmar’s economic future, said Putu Kamayana, adviser at New Star Light Construction and former Asian Development Bank country head.

Growth will not be focused solely in Yangon in the years ahead, and other cities will also be home to modern property developments in the near-term, he said at the Myanmar Global Investment Forum in Nay Pyi Taw on September 17.

“Cities are critical for economic growth for countries, and also for governance, for social services. But there’s been insufficient investment in [Myanmar’s] infrastructure over the past decade[s],” he said during a panel discussion.

New Star Light is working on two large-scale projects in upper Myanmar, including the Mingalar Mandalay mixed development and a business district project in Muse in Shan State on the Chinese border.

Mr Kamayana said Muse will only grow in importance, with 60 percent of Myanmar’s trade with China already travelling through the gate.

“It’s a bustling small town, but on the other side of the border is the city of the Shweli with 1.5 million people. And there’s such a stark contrast,” he said.

Yet developers face a number of challenges, such as securing land and access to capital, that are hindering growth, while urban planning efforts also need to be improved. The process of awarding land must also be evenly enforced, experts say.

Land tenders should be transparently conducted to give firms a fair shot at securing leases, according to Cyrus Pun, executive director of Yoma Strategic Holdings.

“It needs to be a process used by everyone, not some ministries using it, some ministries not using it,” he told The Myanmar Times.

It is also important that policies are not only transparent but also accurately transmitted to the wider community, he said.

“If important decisions are not being conveyed, that’s when people become skeptical,” he said.

U Kan Zaw, minister of national planning and economic development, said a number of areas in the housing market need improvement, including better housing finance and the construction companies themselves.

Mr Pun said that while access to finance is a challenge for developers, banking reforms should help ease the constraint.


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