Ups and downs
Burma’s currency is trading this week at 1,030 kyat to the US dollar, slightly weaker than last week’s rate of 1.025. One kyat is valued at €1,173 and ¥8.67. Gold is trading in Rangoon for between 685,500 and 686,500 kyat per tical, down from 696,800 last week.
Burma tackles rising power demands
Burma has started constructing its first low-head hydropower plant. The Mandalay facility will provide a renewable energy source by generating power through flowing river currents, estimated to produce 279.6 kilowatt hours a year. Demands for power are steadily increasing with a 15 percent rise expected each year, forecasting to hit 14,542 megawatts by 2030. Burma has 43 power plants but are performing below capacity, producing just 2,232 megawatts. A loan agreement with Australia was signed on 7 May last year to fund a four-year power plant construction plan.
ADB pledge $80m to Irrawaddy delta
A US$80 million loan agreement has been signed between the Asian Development Bank and the Burmese government, with an aim to improve road infrastructure to support economic development in the Irrawaddy (or Ayeyarwady) Delta. While rich in crops and seafood, the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and chronic underinvestment have affected transport routes and hindered productivity in the region. Training and other capacity-building support for the Ministry of Construction will also be funded by the loan.
Preparations for new Indo-Burma trade zone
Preparations are underway to establish a 2,500 hectare trade zone at the Burma-India border, at the village of Behiang in Manipur. The project was initially agreed in 2012, and is designed to facilitate trade between the two countries. The trade zone is to be funded by the Indian central government, while the strategically important road will be paid for by Manipur authorities. Bilateral trade between Burma and India is set to reach US$3 billion in 2015, according to Burmese state media.
Myanmar Times to launch English daily
The Myanmar Times announced on Monday that it is to launch an English-language daily newspaper starting 9 March. It said the daily will feature 24 pages of local and international news, commentary and features, and be available at newsstands Monday to Friday. Its Friday edition will also feature a 28-page lifestyle lift-out with an arts and culture round-up from Rangoon. The only other English daily available is the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar.
MOGE signs sharing contracts
Burma’s state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) has signed a contract permitting the sharing of selected offshore Arakan and Tenasserim coastal areas with two private companies. The deal was agreed by the Burmese Ministry of Energy, and signed by MOGE, Shell Myanmar Energy and Mitsui Oil Exploration Group on 5 February. MOGE will receive over US$61 million in the deal. The companies are projected to spend at least US$1.215 million over an observation period of two years and an exploration period of six years in three areas.
S Korea assists in Burma’s rice export goals
South Korean financial group Shinhan Bank and Burma’s Ministry of Cooperatives agreed a commercial loan of US$85 million on 21 January to develop Burma’s agricultural industry. The loan is for the purchase of imported agriculture and farming machinery from leading South Korean farming equipment company Daedong Industrial. This move to develop the agriculture industry aims to restore Burma as a top global rice exporter.
One-month suspension on Rangoon construction
A one-month suspension order has been issued on construction projects in the Yangon City Development Committee area with environmental impacts now under scrutiny and project site inspections scheduled. Heritage conservationists have also opined that construction will hurt the ecosystem of downtown Rangoon. Projects by Shwe Taung Development, Thu Kha Yadanar and Marga Landmark Development were among those suspended.