Myanmar executive looks to Indonesia as guide in development

Jakarta. (Jakarta Globe) – Myanmar could look to Indonesia, which emerged as a democratic country after 32 years of authoritarian rule under Suharto, as a guide in building the nation politically and economically after a half century of military control, according to an executive of a large conglomerate in Myanmar.

“Our new government is very keen to build democracy in the country,” said U Aik Htun, chairman of Shwe Taung Group, which oversees property development and large construction projects in Myanmar. “We look at Indonesia. As we say, Indonesia is the same way with Myanmar. We have so many experiences. People are more encouraged.”

Since 2011, the Myanmar government has been implementing a series of reforms that include allowing more foreign investment in the country to help finance the construction of new roads and buildings. Since Suharto stepped down from power in 1998, Indonesia’s economy has more than doubled, and foreign direct investment continues to reach record highs.

Among its many projects in Myanmar, Shwe Taung Group helped the Ministry of Electric Power complete work on the Yeywa Hydropower project, which alleviated power shortages in many parts of the country, according to its website. It also operates movie theatres, shopping centres and a radio station.

“All of our businesses are developing the infrastructure, developing the people’s living standard. We build the highway, we build the high-tech power [structures], shopping malls to increase the Myanmar people’s living standard,” U Aik Htun said in an interview with the Jakarta Globe at its office on October 6.

“We will continue to [build] the infrastructure. Infrastructure in Myanmar has just started now. We need a lot of infrastructure right now — for example, subway, highway. That’s our plan.”

U Aik Htun said that opening up Myanmar’s economy and optimizing its infrastructure development could attract foreign investors to the country. He added that Shwe Taung Group could learn from Lippo Group, which has businesses ranging from property development and health care to media and telecommunications. The Jakarta Globe is affiliated with Lippo Group.

“We also invite so many foreign investors to infrastructure. Lippo Group is very experienced. We want some experience from Lippo Group to develop our country,” U Aik Htun said.

He spoke about Myanmar’s new government regulation on foreign investment that allows investors not only from Asia but also from Western countries to invest in Myanmar.

“Since 2011 the Myanmar economic climate has changed. The civilian government [has implemented] business and economic reforms. The civilian government also provided [reforms in] the FDI, the foreign direct investment law. The foreign direct investment law encourages more investors,” he said.

“Now, day by day we provide the best service to encourage all investors. In the beginning foreign investors were not allowed to do business here in some areas. But now we are [free from] all the restrictions,” U Aik Htun said.

Source: Jakarta Globe

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