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Ups and downs
One US dollar was buying at 968 kyat on Friday, staying the same as the week before. The selling rate rested at 975 kyat to the dollar.
The price of gold rose remained stable at 685,000 kyat per tical on Friday, the same as last week. Fuel prices also stayed the same – petrol 814 kyat per litre; diesel 920; and octane 920. The cost of rice and basic commodities was also stable at Rangoon marketplaces, with good quality rice selling at 1100-1200 kyat per basket.
Shwe gas pipeline fully operational
A pipeline pumping natural gas from Burma to energy-hungry China has gone fully operational, state-run Chinese media reported on Monday. The project, stretching more than 2,500 km from Kyaukphyu in western Burma to southwest China, will help the world’s second-largest economy feed its growing energy needs in southwestern provinces including Yunnan, Guizhou, Chongqing and Guangxi.
Burma invites tender bids for broadband services
Burma’s Myanmar Post and Telecommunications department (MPT) is inviting foreign and domestic companies to offer tender bids to provide broadband wireless Internet services across Burma. According to an announcement by MPT, companies interested in joint-ventures with the government are welcome to conduct surveys in the relevant regions across the country before submitting their business model to the MPT chief engineer’s office. About two years ago, a Malaysia-backed company in Burma proposed a scheme with the MPT to provide prepaid Wi-Fi services in several townships in Rangoon, but it was rejected. Meanwhile, Burmese ISP RedLink Communications Co Ltd has announced a plan to provide Wi-Fi service in public “hotspots” around Rangoon by the end of this year.
Mandalay railway station floors to be converted into hotel
The Adventure-Myanmar company has won through a US$4.4 million tender bid the rights to develop a hotel business on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the Mandalay Railway Station, according to an official from the Burma Railway Enterprise. The company is currently awaiting permission from the country’s investment commission to work on the three floors which contain 130 rooms. The Burma Railway Enterprise previously disclosed that the Ministry of Railways was incurring losses and was looking to lease out floors of its buildings to generate income.
Ministry to ban foreign fishing boats in Burmese waters
The Livestock Breeding and Fisheries Ministry has declared that it will no longer allow foreign fishing vessels, including those from neighbouring Thailand, to fish in Burmese waters starting from the next fiscal year. An official from the Fisheries Department, Hnin Oo, said the ministry made the decision after consulting with ministry officials, the Fisheries Department and experts. Currently, Thai fishing vessels are allowed to operate in Burmese waters by paying roughly US$12 million in taxes to the Burmese government under a fishing rights scheme. Hnin Oo said the state can recuperate a similar amount in tax from Burmese fishing vessels, and that the scheme will not only increase the country’s GDP but also will prevent fish deposits from being depleted. The current fishing permit for Thai vessels will expire in March 2014.
UN to help modernise Burma’s aviation industry
The UN’s aviation agency has agreed to help modernise Burma’s airline industry by providing technical assistance to the government after a deal was reached at a meeting between President Thein Sein and the Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Raymond Benjamin, in Naypyidaw on Monday. Discussions reportedly focused on Burma’s need for economic assistance and modern technology, along with airline security, infrastructure and equipment.
Burma’s aviation industry has boomed since the inauguration of the new government in 2011, with foreign companies lining up to invest in the country’s largely untapped markets. One such firm is Japan’s All Nippon Airways, which announced plans in August to buy a US$25 million stake in Burma’s Asian Wings Airways, becoming the first foreign carrier to invest in a domestic airline.
DHL freight service opens Burma office
DHL Global Forwarding, an air and ocean freight service, has expanded its presence in Southeast Asia by setting up a Rangoon office and appointing a Burma country manager, according to the Bangkok Post.
Asia-Pacific CEO Kelvin Leung said that Burma has enormous potential to become one the region’s biggest markets. “DHL Global Forwarding’s logistics experts based in Yangon [Rangoon] will help bridge businesses in Myanmar [Burma] with a network of international business partners both within and beyond the region,” he said.
Work on ‘trilateral’ highway to finish soon
A proposed highway connecting Burma, India and Thailand is expected to become operational in the near future, according to India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharm. The highway, which will connect western India’s Moreh town in Manipur with western Thailand’s Mae Sot, will significantly boost trade routes in the region. One third of India’s pulses and one fifth of its timber are imported from Burma.
The idea of the highway was conceived at the trilateral ministerial meeting on transport linkages in Rangoon in April 2002. India says it is also looking to connect to Burma via a new sea route. The Indian government is currently developing the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which will connect Kolkata with Sittwe port in Burma by sea; then Sittwe to Mizoram via river and road transport.
Burma calls for FDI in Sandoway hotel zone project
The Burmese government is planning to invite foreign companies to invest in the development of a hotel zone project in Arakan state’s Sandoway [Thandwe] township, according to Aung Zaw Win, director general at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. President Thein Sein has reportedly budgeted 5 billion kyat (US$5.2 billion) to the project with the aim of modernising the popular beach resort Ngapali, which attracts thousands of foreign tourists each year. “The president wants the Ngapali Beach in Thandwe to [be modern] like the Bali Beach,” said Aung Zaw.
Myanmar Investment Commission may have powers curbed
The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), which reviews all applications from foreign companies looking to operate in Burma, may have its discretionary powers curbed as part of a government review process, according to the Irrawaddy. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is working with Burma to help improve the country’s investment capacity, including reducing its administrative burden. A spokesperson for the opposition party, the National League for Democracy, welcomed the move. “The MIC has too much power and any reduction of that is to be welcomed,” Executive Committee member Han Tha told The Irrawaddy.