Ups and downs
The Burmese currency fell slightly against the US dollar this week: the buying rate was 971 kyat to the dollar compared to 969 the week before. The dollar was also up two kyat from last week, selling at 978.
Japanese firms unite to modernize Burmese aviation
Five Japanese multinational companies concluded an agreement with Burma’s aviation authorities on 20 September to modernize the country’s outdated airport infrastructure, according to Tokyo daily Asahi Shimbun. The five firms were named as: Sumitomo Corp; NEC Corp; NEC Networks & System Integration Corp; Toshiba Corp; and Morita Corp. The Japanese companies are to assist Burma procure modern radio, flight systems, security and communications control equipment for major airports, such as Rangoon, Mandalay, Nyaung U, Heho, Sandoway and Tavoy, the report said.
Suu Kyi calls for ‘responsible investment’
Speaking in Singapore on Saturday, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Burma needs “responsible investment” of foreign capital as it seeks to accelerate economic development, according to an AFP report. She also said that the country needs to improve its rule of law and democratic reforms “soon” – not by 2015 when general elections are held. Establishing a firmer rule of law will include changes to the constitution, she reportedly said, without giving details.
NZ Embassy opens in Burma
New Zealand has opened its first embassy in Burma, saying that Wellington now recognises the political and economic reforms in the country. NZ Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said last week the bureau in Rangoon will host a number of ministerial and official level meetings next year. New Zealand has recently increased its development assistance to Burma, with major commitments to dairy cooperation and capacity building.
And the African nation of Angola has signed an accord with Burma to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, its official news agency Angop reported on Friday.
Railway head office to be converted into 5-star hotel
The railway head office in Rangoon is to be converted into a five-star hotel, Xinhua reported on Wednesday, citing Burmese officials. The new hotel will aim to accommodate foreign tourists with 154 suites and 450 staff, the report said. There are currently five other five-star hotels in the former capital.
Private jets for hire
State-owned Myanmar Airways International is offering business jets for sale or hire to private businessmen, according to a report in the Myawaddy Daily Newspaper on 20 September. Quoting the airline’s Mandalay senior officer Zaw Win, the report said that an unspecified number of Gulfstream G450 aircraft will be available, and that the service will allow business tycoons to charter aircraft for urgent business matters.
Kyaukphyu: Bright lights, big city
Residents of Kyaukphyu and 21 surrounding villages began enjoying the benefits of 24-hour electricity as from 15 September when small-scale gas turbines began turning at the Shwe Gas pipeline terminal. According to a retired electricity official in the city, some 20 million cubic feet of compressed natural gas per day is now providing power to the town and its satellite villages. He said the price of electricity is 35 kyat per unit for home use and 75 kyat per unit for industrial purposes – the standard price across Burma.
Pegu real estate soaring
Land prices in the city of Pegu are soaring amid the construction of various development projects in the area, including the Hantharwaddy International Airport, industrial zones and suburban housing estates. According to local residents and real estate agents, the price of land in the choicest areas of Pegu, previously valued between 200,000 and 300,000 kyat (US$200-$300) per 80x100ft plot, has skyrocketed to over 100 million kyat (more than US$100,000) – a breathtaking 500 times the price of just two or three years ago.
KBZ is highest taxpayer in Burma, says Finance Ministry
The Kanbawza Bank (KBZ) has been declared the highest payer of income tax in Burma for the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to a list of the top 500 taxpayers in the country released by the Ministry of Finance and Revenue. Chaired by Aung Ko Win, KBZ has more than 2,000 employees and its main source of revenue is from its transfer and loan services. Min Htut, director-general of the Ministry of Finance and Revenue, said KBZ earned over 10 billion kyat (US$10 million) last fiscal year with tax levied at 25 percent on net profits.
Burmese-Thai businesses try speed dating
An event called the Myanmar-Thai Business Matching will be held at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry office on 4 October to promote bilateral trade, Thailand’s Commercial Office announced on Friday, adding that some 49 Thai companies – representing import and export, health, technology, cosmetics, food and cold storage interests – are expected to attend.