Government seeks parliament nod on forming new ministry

President U Win Myint on Tuesday informed the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (bicameral parliament) about a plan to establish a Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations to oversee overseas assistance.

“To aid national economic development, the ministry will supervise assistance and aid provided by the UN, international organisations, and the international community in line with the government’s policies and rules, and to ensure effective cooperation with those bodies,” a letter from the president said.

U Win Myint said his office is seeking the opinion of parliament in the establishment of the new ministry, which will also be responsible for promoting local and foreign investment as well as reviewing those investments to avoid environmental and social harm.

Myanmar Attorney General U Tun Tun Oo read out the president’s letter and explained to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw the circumstances that led to the formation of the new ministry on Monday.

U Tun Tun Oo said that as Myanmar is promoting constructive cooperation with international and regional communities to become a responsible nation, but only if geopolitics and geoeconomics can be taken into account.

“Myanmar’s current situation shows that economic cooperation is directly related to political progress. It is an important time to promote the country’s economy. In the public interest, the country needs to manage loans, assistance and support provided by the international community that are necessary for the development of the country,” he said.

“The world’s economic situation creates a bigger challenge, based on how much the country promotes its prosperity. Competitiveness for attracting foreign investment is becoming more intense,” he added.

U Win Myint’s letter noted that the ministry aims to fulfill the needs of the country and the people and to promote the economy and investment in response to the international and regional situations and geoeconomic condition of the nation.

U Aung Kyaw Kyaw Oo, secretary of the Pyithu Hluttaw (lower house) Investment and Industrial Development Committee, said the ministry might be a response to the escalating US-China trade war, which could lead to more Chinese investment in Southeast Asia.

U Khin Cho, another Pyithu Hluttaw member, said more foreign investment could flow into the country through such a ministry.

Although the government could try to get more investment by engaging with the international community, it cannot definitely be said that forming a new ministry would help, according to some members of parliament. They said getting more investments depends on economic and financial policies as well as on rules and investment law.

U Thaung Aye, a Pyithu Hluttaw MP from the opposition United Solidarity and Opposition Party, said foreign investment will only be attracted by the ease of doing business in the country.

U Ye Min Oo, a member of the ruling National League for Democracy’s economic committee, said, “The ministry will be mainly formed with two departments under the Ministry of Planning and Finance – the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration and Foreign Economic Relations Department – which are mainly doing the functions of the Myanmar Investment Commission.”

“That new ministry will become a major one that could greatly help in driving economic development, but it is quite difficult to say who will take charge of it. Despite being a new ministry, license matters will still be under other ministries, and its budget will be under the Ministry of Planning and Finance for the time being. Maybe next year, they will submit a separate budget request,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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