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Business weekly 22 May

Ups and downs

The Burmese currency on Friday was valued at 1,082 kyat per US dollar; 1,694.3 kyat per British pound; 1,202.6 kyat per Euro; and 358.71 kyat per Brazillian real. Gold was buying at 40,185.17 kyat per gram and selling at 44,415.18 kyat per gram.

Telenor invests in 700 new telecoms towers

Burma’s telecoms network will receive a boost when 700 newly-ordered mobile communications towers are rolled out across the country. Telenor Myanmar has purchased the units ­– which will allow ‘multi-tenancy’, or shared use with other companies – from Apollo Towers to improve mobile infrastructure. American companies Tillman Global Holdings LLC and Texas Pacific Group are the major backers of Apollo Towers.

New Korean-backed bus line for downtown Mandalay

Myanmar Gaon, a newly announced conglomerate of Mandalay businesses and South Korean-owned Namsong, will establish a new bus line in downtown Mandalay following approval from the regional transportation minister, according to The Myanmar Times. The second city’s proliferation of motorbike in its urban centre means residents rely on buses less than in the capital city Rangoon, where motorbikes and mopeds are banned, though there are still 850 registered buses in the city.

Dial-a-taxi service for Rangoon

Rangoon is set for its first ever taxi call service backed by a 1,500 strong fleet of taxicabs. The company’s three founders – including movie star Wai Lu Kyaw, as well as an entrepreneur and a private teacher – on Wednesday addressed more than 1,500 people at Burma’s Chambers of Commerce building. Taxicab owners will be able to rent their vehicles to the company, and the owners hope that the business will help to alleviate Rangoon’s traffic problem and reduce fuel consumption, according to state-run Global New Light of Myanmar.


MPT telecom market share shrinks

The number of users of state-owned telecoms operator Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) has declined by almost 25 percent over the past two months from 11 million to eight million, according to the Ministry of Information. Until 2014, MPT was the sole service provider with its customer base almost tripling from four million in March 2013 to 11 million in January 2015. Norway-based Telenor and Qatari Ooredoo were granted operator licenses in August 2014. There are 18 million mobile phone users in the country.

New ecotourism plan announced

Burma’s new ecotourism strategy was launched on Tuesday at the International Conference on Ecotourism in Protected areas, held in Naypyidaw. Vice President Nyan Tun said that the Burmese government recognised the area’s potential for growth, and was including tourism within its plans for a green economy. The EU-supported strategy includes expanding protected areas, investment in infrastructure and development of responsible business models. The three-day conference gives opportunity to share ideas on conservation and regulatory frameworks, said Nyan Tun, cited in state media.

Telenor teashop education programme expanded

Telenor Myanmar and partner Myanmar Mobile Education Project (MyME) are expanding a joint project, launched in 2014, which provides education to children working in teashops. The project provides six hours of lessons from mobile education units for 13- to 16-year-olds working in Telenor branded teashops in Rangoon and Mandalay. Approximately 1,000 students will be enrolled in the programme by the end of the year across cities including Magwe and Moulmein, according to Telenor CEO Petter Furberg, Global New Light of Myanmar reports.

New tax for mobile phone top-ups

From 1 June, mobile phone customers in Burma will have to pay commercial tax on any purchases of SIM cards and top-ups following the passing of a new tax law. A five percent tax rate will be applied at purchase, with a 1,000 kyat purchase returning 952 kyat worth of credit. The price of a new SIM card will include the new tariff, according to a press release by telecoms company Telenor.

Mitsubishi and Hitachi to revamp Rangoon-Mandalay train signals

Mitsubishi Corporation and Hitachi Ltd have been awarded a contract to supply and install a new train signalling system between Rangoon and Mandalay. The 2.4 billion yen (US$20 million) contract, signed on 15 May 2015, will be covered by a grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The system will run for 140 kilometres between Yangon Central and Pyuntasa Station. The project is due to be completed in June 2017 and is one of many schemes planned to update Burma’s ageing railway infrastructure.



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