Friday, September 14, 2012

Investment law likely to be amended again: official


Friday, 14 September 2012 11:57 Mizzima News   

A top official in Burma’s private sector said on Thursday the newly passed draft foreign investment law will probably undergo revisions, after being sent back to Parliament unsigned by President Thein Sein.

The draft has been approved by the legislative body, but it must be signed by the president to become law. Officials have said Thein Sein wants the law to be more friendly to foreign investors.

Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce (UMFCCI) chairman Win Aung speaks at a press conference on the Foreign Investment Law. Photo: Hein Htet / Mizzima

Responding to questions from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Win Aung, the president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said he expected “there will be some” revisions to the law which restricted foreigners to 50 per cent ownership of ventures in certain politically sensitive industries.

The 50-50 split found little favor with local firms or foreigners because it left too much uncertainty over who would control the firms, said observers.

President Thein Sein hasn't yet signed the law and there is rampant speculation that he will send the law back for amendments so that foreign investors can get more control in some sectors.

Whatever happens with the law, though, “we do have to give a chance” to Burma’s small and medium-size businesspeople, Win Aung said.

“We don't want to be too protective,” he said. But “we have to care about our SMEs.”

Government officials said many domestic companies pushed back, saying that opening the door too widely to foreigners would wind up destroying some local businesses.

Although foreign investors are now lobbying Naypyitaw to loosen the law, it's also becoming clearer that some domestic companies will continue to fight if the law is sent back for changes.

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