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Week in Review: Myanmar

Nov 30. 2015
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By Myanmar Eleven

Amendments to FDI, MCI laws okayed The Lower House has approved the amendments to the Foreign Direct Investment Law and the Myanmar Citizens' Investment Law.
The changes aim to relinquish some powers to local governments in highlighting desirable investment that fits natural resources and job demands in their areas.
Norfund loan
The Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries has extended a US$2 million (Bt71.5 million) loan to Proximity Designs to offer microfinance loans to thousands of farmers across the country. It is the first foreign loan to a microfinance programme in Myanmar. 
More female MPs
A total of 148 women will take parliamentary seats, according to the Union Election Commission. From over 6,000 election candidates, about 800 were women. Of the 148, 133 represent the National League for Democracy.
High imports of capital goods
Capital goods account for 45 per cent of imports, indicating the modernisation of the country’s manufacturing industry.
In his message to calm public fears on trade deficits, Maung Aung, an adviser to the commerce ministry, said personal goods accounted for only 25 per cent. 
The rest are industrial raw materials.
Among the imported capital goods, heavy machinery and construction equipment comprise the largest proportion.
Myanmar has shown a $2.1 billion trade deficit since the 2015 fiscal year started in April.
12 workers on trial
Twelve Yangon workers who went on strike in March to demand pay raises were tried on riot charges.
Their attorney, Aung Thurein Htun, said the workers sought permission for the strike but they received no reply. He insisted that they have the right to the work stoppage.
Dragon Air emergency landing
Dragon Air Flight A321 bound for Hong Kong made an emergency landing at Yangon 
International Airport after hitting a bird. 
Last year, Myanmar Airways International and Air KBZ experienced a similar accident. In January, a Airbus A320 of Golden Myanmar also hit a bird while landing at Nay Pyi Taw.
First Pizza Hut in Yangon
Pizza Hut has opened its first outlet in Yangon under a joint venture of Pizza Hut Myanmar, City Mart Holding Co and Jardine Restaurant Group.
Jardine CEO Henry Yip said 15-20 branches are planned throughout the country in five years, 
creating over 500 jobs.  At the first outlet, 97 per cent of staff and materials is sourced locally.
Microsoft’s new deal
Microsoft has licensed Shwe Taung Group to boost efficiency, productivity and security in an increasingly mobile-first, cloud-first world.
STG, considered one of the major cronies, said the partnership with Microsoft is a testament to its commitment to good corporate governance. 
In September, Microsoft clinched a similar deal with Kanbawza Group of Companies.
Malaysian firm’s entry
Malaysia’s telecommunications network services provider OCK Group is in the final stages of landing a 12-year contract from Telenor Myanmar to build and lease over 900 towers, according to The Star. The daily said all the towers in this phase were expected to be completed next year.
Facebook case continues
A court in Ayeyawady region has dismissed the quest to drop the case against Facebook user Chaw Sandi Tun. The second request for bail was also denied. Chaw Sandi Tun was charged under the Telecommunications Law and the Penal Code for posting a satirical post against the army.
MPT’s expansion
Myanma Posts and Telecommunications plans to expand its network to cover more than 95 per cent of the population by March.
It now has 16 million active subscribers.
Medics against the army
Doctors joining the Black Ribbon Movement have issued a statement urging the government to stop appointing military personnel to the Health Ministry.
It also said the ministry’s staff should join hands in ensuring a smooth power transition to the civilian government.
In August, some graduates of the Defence Services Academy and Defence Services Medical Academy were appointed as ministry staff.
Highway master plan unveiled
The Construction Ministry’s master plan for roads, including five north-south and seven 
east-west expressways, would be finished soon.
Kyaw Lin, permanent secretary, said the plan would be materialised soon if it wins international financial support. The ministry recently welcomed officials from the World Bank and Japan.
The north-south routes are Pathein-Taungup-Sittwe, Ayeyawady region to Tamu through Magway region and Chin state, Pyay-Magway-Monywa to Kalay, Yangon-Mandalay to Myitkyina and Kawthoung-Myitkyina, passing Mawlamyine, Thaton, Loikaw, Taunggyi and Hsipaw.

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