Ups and Downs
The Burmese currency strengthened slightly, with the buying rate finishing on Friday at 968 kyat, down from 971 the week before; while the selling rate dropped to 973 kyat from 979 last week. However, the price of gold jumped up this week to 682,000 kyat per tical from 678,300 kyat the week before. Fuel prices remained the same, with petrol selling at 820 kyat per litre, diesel at 950 kyat per litre, and octane at 920 kyat per litre. The price of rice also did not fluctuate, with high-quality pawhsanmwe rice selling for 1,300 to 1,700 kyat per basket at most Rangoon markets and low-quality Manawthukha rice going for 900 kyat per basket.
Industry Ministry slammed for incurring $200m loss
Burma’s Ministry of Industry came under fire from MPs in parliament on Thursday for accumulating a loss of 190 billion kyat (US$200 million) over the last year. A Ministry spokesperson explained that losses were due to a cut in demand for agricultural equipment, the suspension of a paper mill and a factory, and a delay in recuperating fertiliser revenues. However, MP Khin Shwe claimed that the privatisation of profitable sectors – such as breweries, cigarette factories and soft drinks production – was the real reason for the losses.
Burmese govt plans for six dry ports in Rangoon, Mandalay
Myanma Railways is planning to build six dry ports in Rangoon and Mandalay to meet the expected increase of goods after the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, the New Light of Myanmar reported on Friday. According to a presentation given by Myanmar Railways deputy general manager, Aung Myo Myint, the sites for dry ports in Rangoon are Kwayt Ma, Ywathagyi and Danyingone; while the sites in Mandalay are at Myoth Haung, Myitnge and Paleik. A public tendering process to develop these ports will be announced soon, and construction should begin in November, he added.
Rolls-Royce to assist Burmese engineering group in Rangoon power plant
German industrial firm Rolls-Royce Power Systems signed a long-term service agreement with RGK+Z&A, a Burmese engineering group, on Monday to provide spare parts, maintenance and technical assistance to the Hlawga power plant in Rangoon. According to a Rolls-Royce statement released on Monday, the agreement was inked in London by Khin Maung Soe, the minister of electric power. Hlawga power plant is expected to generate 25 megawatts of electricity and will deliver it to Rangoon’s residents.
Yoma, Mitsubishi ink deal on Bridgestone tyres
Through its subsidiary Myanmar Motors, Yoma Strategic Holdings will begin working with Mitsubishi Corporation to provide sales support for Bridgestone tyres in Burma, according to a statement released by Yoma on Tuesday. Mitsubishi will hold 70 percent of the shares for this joint venture, while the remaining 30 percent is to be held by First Myanmar Investment Co Ltd – a subsidiary of Myanmar Motors.
Burmese budget to be more transparent, says Finance Ministry
Burma will be more transparent in how the national budget is allocated, Deputy Minister for Finance Lin Aung said on Monday during a parliamentary session. According to state-run media, the Burmese government is working with the World Bank to develop a more transparent and open budget allocation process so that the public will know how their taxes are being used, Lin Aung said.
Burma nets $3.5 billion in latest gem sales
Burma’s latest official sale of gems, jade and pearls brought in US$3.5 billion, a record high for the mineral-rich country, according to Myanmar Business Today. “Total process from the sale of jade, pearl and gems like ruby and sapphire … amounted to over 2.6 billion euros [about $3.54 billion], exceeding our expectations and hitting a record high,” said Win Htein, a director general at the Ministry of Mines. Last year’s sales amounted to about $2.6 billion.
With influx of new job seekers, unemployment in Rangoon remains high
While the number of employed people in Rangoon is expected to increase by more than 30 percent in 2013, the unemployment rate remains unflaggingly high, according to the Myanmar Business Today. Figures released by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security show that 100,000 people are expected get new jobs by the end of 2014. Yet unemployment is still rampant, due to the lack of opportunities and a lack of knowledge by job hunters about the work available.