Ups and downs
The Burmese currency rose by just one kyat this week against the US dollar. The buying rate on Thursday was 970, compared to 971 last week; the selling rate was 977 as opposed to 978 the week before.
The price of gold dropped, following suit with the global market. It now stands at 694,600 kyat per tical, down 4,000 kyat from last week. Fuel prices remain the same: petrol is 814 kyat per litre, diesel is at 920, and octane 920.
Telecoms operators face delay
Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo, which were awarded Burma’s first mobile telecoms licences in June, face a delay in the launch of their operations. Tor Odland, Vice President of Communications at Telenor, confirmed to NRK that it would not receive its licence by the end of September as originally expected, blaming legal formalities. Burmese President Thein Sein has reportedly suggested a number of amendments to the Telecommunications Bill which was passed by parliament in August. According to political sources, the proposed changes will be discussed when parliament resumes in early October, and the licences are expected to be approved shortly thereafter. Currently less than 10 percent of Burma’s population is estimated to have access to a telephone.
Exim exec talks up bilateral trade with Burma
The twin factors of traditional goodwill for India and the increasing focus on promoting trade among neighbouring countries will give a boost to bilateral trade between India and Burma, says David Rasquinha, the executive director of Exim Bank of India. According to the Deccan Herald on 27 September, Rasquinha emphasised trade possibilities in the technology, energy and infrastructure sectors, speaking in Bangalore on Wednesday.
He is also reported as saying that the Indian government is actively considering a US$500 million line of credit to Burma to step up exports from India, and noted that Delhi has already extended $247.4 million to the Myanma Foreign Trade Bank.
Vietnamese propose new industrial zone in Rangoon
A Ho Chi Minh City-based property developer has initiated a proposal to build a Vietnam–Burma Industrial Zone that will offer Vietnamese firms an opportunity to set up plants in Rangoon. C.T Group executives submitted the plan at a meeting with Burma’s Vice-president Nyan Tun in Naypyidaw in late August, the company said in a press release last week. The plan is reportedly supported by several Vietnamese firms who have often found it difficult to find production locations in Burma.
Central Bank admits to US$7bn in overseas accounts
The Central Bank of Myanmar last week announced that Burma has parked more than US$7 billion worth of foreign reserves in overseas bank accounts, rejecting reports that the figure was much larger – up to $11bn – and had led to the World Bank refusing to cancel its debt. According to a report in Asia Times, Central Bank chairman Kyaw Kyaw Maung denied earlier reports that the Burmese government held up to $11 billion in five overseas accounts, which had prompted the World Bank to stand firm on recouping the country’s loans.
World Bank approves US$140m power plant loan for Mon state
The World Bank on Tuesday approved a US$140 million interest-free loan to boost electricity access in Burma where over 70 percent of the population live in darkness. The project, which will replace aging gas turbines in Mon state, is expected to produce 250 percent more electricity by developing a sustainable, modern and efficient power plant, according to the Bank.
Real estate agents agree fixed commission rates
Moe Moe, an official from the Myanmar Real Estate Services Association, told DVB last week that the Association has fixed service charges for real estate deals: three percent for the seller for properties worth less than 10 million kyat; and two percent for those over 10 million kyat. As for leases or rentals: either three percent of the deposit or the equivalent of one month’s rent. She said these have been the standard commission fees charged by real estate agents for years, but that the Association was now making it official.
Modern new train to run Rangoon circuit
A new air-conditioned train with six carriages and more than 300 seats will start running the Yangon Circular Railway Line at the beginning of October, according to a Lower Burma Myanmar Railways official. He said the train will run eight times a day. Some 90,000 commuters travel on Rangoon’s rail network every day.
Nestlé takes leap into Burma
Swiss food and beverages giant Nestlé has set up a subsidiary in Burma, after receiving permission from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, industry media reported on 25 September. Famous in Europe for its chocolate-based products, Nestlé has 468 factories in 86 countries around the world, it says on its website. The company currently employs about 330,000 people around the world.
Thailand, Burma agree to speed up Dawei development
Thailand and Burma have agreed to speed up the development of the Dawei Economic Zone, following talks between Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Burma’s parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann in Bangkok on Monday. Yingluck reportedly told him that officials from various Thai state enterprises were conducting an economic study on infrastructure in Dawei, such as transportation and power and water supply.