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Ups and downs
The Burmese currency strengthens for a fourth week running, its buying rate lowering from 968 to 962 kyat to the US dollar, while the selling rate moves from 973 to 970 kyat to the dollar. Gold is down though, tumbling to 688,500 kyat per tical, down more than 7,000 kyat from last week. All fuel prices have remained the same since November: petrol is 820 kyat, diesel 950 kyat, and octane 920 kyat per litre. High-quality Pawhsanmwe rice is still selling for 1,200 to 1,300 kyat per basket at Rangoon markets, while low-quality Emata rice remains at 850-900 kyat.
Yoma plans high-rises over Rangoon heritage site
Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd and First Myanmar Investment Co are to construct two office towers, a commercial centre and other developments on a 10-acre site surrounding the 136-year-old British Burma Railway Company building in downtown Rangoon, according to a statement by the World Bank’s International Finance Corp, which is backing the scheme. The colonial railway building, which is one of Rangoon’s best known heritage sites, is due to be renovated into a Peninsula Hotel in a separate project.
Thai firm announces Dawei deal
Thai energy firm Andaman Power & Utility has announced that it has been selected by the Burmese government to be “the sole electricity and utility provider” for the Dawei special economic zone and the surrounding area. It is thought that the company has been granted rights to build a 500-megawatt natural gas power plant in Dawei, although a first phase target would be for only 50 megawatts. The statement comes just a few months after the largest Thai construction firm, Ital-Thai pcl, was axed from the deep-sea port project.
Agriculture: Burma must ease export laws to encourage FDI
In an effort to restore Burma as a top world rice exporter, critics of the government have advocated for improving and revising current rice policies and export regulations. The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) has claimed that unless the government encourages foreign investors to invest in the rice industry, the country’s hopes of ensuring domestic production and surplus for exporting are unlikely to come to fruition.
Burmese bank to offer industrial loans
The Myanmar Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank (SMIDB) is planning to lend 20 billion kyat (US$20 million) to industries in the country over the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to a Xinhua report on Thursday citing official sources. SMIDB has already granted 10 billion kyat to 62 Burmese entrepreneurs, the sources said, and a total of 12 branch offices of the bank have been opened across the country. Meanwhile, a Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Bill has been brought to parliament and is expected to be enacted in near future.
Japanese firm KDDI to enter Burma’s mobile market
Japanese telecommunication operator KDDI Corporation is seeking infrastructure investments in Burma’s communications sector. In a Rangoon meeting on 13 March, the general manager of KDDI’s engineering division, Masakatsu Sawada, told the Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry that KDDI would focus on building antennas and mobile towers and selling wireless CCTV camera systems. KDDI was among the bidders for Burma’s two telecommunication operator licenses, won eventually by Qatar-based Ooredoo and Norwegian firm Telenor.