Ups and Downs
The Burmese kyat is valued on 14 august at 1,256 per US dollar, compared to 1,401.5 to the euro. The kyat is also trading at 1,961 to the UK pound; 898.52 to the Singapore dollar; 33.09 to the Thai baht; and 17.91 to the Indian rupee.
Gold is buying for 748, 000 kyat per tical, and selling for 753, 000 kyat per tical.[One tical = 16.4 metric grams]
Japan pledges $250 million to Burmese rail upgrade
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will invest up to 100 billion yen (US $250 million) over three loans to help upgrade Rangoon’s [Yangon] existing Circular Railway line. The agency has also proposed two underground rail lines and a light rapid transport system, to ease growing traffic congestion around the city, JICA told DVB 14 August.
The Japanese Prime Minster pledged a modernisation of the existing circular railway through JICA, which will include new signalling and train carriages.
Read more about the JICA railway upgrade here.
Rice exports suspended
Burmese rice exporters have decided to suspect all exports, in an effort to alleviate rising prices in flood-affected parts of the country. Speaking to the Bangkok Post, the vice chairman of the Myanmar Rice Federation, Soe Tun, said exports would be delayed until the end of the rainy season.
“This will help stabilise the rice price as rice is the primary food for Myanmar people, and the price always rises in such time of troubles,” Soe Tun said.
Read more DVB coverage of the flood here.
Tourism industry escapes flood unscathed
Flooding and landslides on the tail of Cyclone Komen have devastated 12 of 14 Burmese states and divisions, but tourism operators have reported that the industry has been largely unaffected. U Myat Thu, operations manager for Columbus Travel and Tours, told Myanmar Times that key tourist destinations were operating as normal, and that popular locations such as Inle Lake, Mandalay, and Bagan are still seeing tourist dollars in the low season.
19 foreign firms bid for Burmese LPG venture
Nineteen international firms have responded to the invitation of Myanmar Petroleum Enterprise to bid for joint ventures at a new liquid petroleum gas (LPG) factory in Thanlyin, the Ministry of Energy has announced. Proposals will include construction, production and distribution contracts at the port, which is situated just ten kilometres southeast of Rangoon.
First Malaysian bank opens in Burma
Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Malaysia’s leading bank by assets, commenced branch operations in Burma on Monday, becoming the first Malaysian bank to open a branch in the country. Maybank is the fourth largest bank in Southeast Asia, and one of a growing number of foreign banks gaining a presence in Burma. Japan’s Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd and Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd have already opened for trading in Burma.
Salween Dam dispute unsettled
The Australian company conducting Social Impact Assessments on the viability of the Salween dam has faced protests in Shan State at their public meetings. Chinese Three Gorges Corporate and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand have joint-contracted Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation (SMEC) to ascertain the impact the massive project would have on the environment and surrounding communities. The project, if it goes ahead, will inundate over 676 square kilometres in eastern Shan State, displacing thousands of residents.
SMEC is facing enquiries at home in Australia over allegations of bribery. The firm told the Australian Associated Press on 4 August that “engaging with certain community members has been challenged, with planned consultations sometimes disrupted.”