Billionaire financier to build on Open Society Foundation initiatives for Burma with opening of first official base in the country
- BRIEF – Domestic cigarette and alcohol taxes set
Burma’s Union Parliament will set a duty tax on domestic cigarette brands at 100 percent, while liquor, beer and wine rates will be 50 percent, as originally proposed in the Union Taxation Bill. Lower house member Khin San Hlaing proposed on 10 March that the taxes be increased to 200 percent to reduce consumption. Finance Minister Win Shein argued that setting the tax high may lead to more tax evasions, hence the Parliament decided to stick with the rates proposed in the 2014 bill, which will be applied for the 2014-15 fiscal year as of April.
- BRIEF — New pier for Rangoon- Dala ferry commuters
A fresh pier in Dala, across the river from Rangoon, is to be built in anticipation of the arrival of new ferries pledged by the Japanese government. Hundreds of commuters make the trip between Rangoon and Dala every day, despite the town being without a sturdy pier. The Department of Marine Administration has planned the construction project, having previously voiced concern over the three dilapidated ferries currently in service. The Japanese ferries are due to arrive in Burma this year.
- BUSINESS – Thai firm announces Dawei deal
Thai energy firm Andaman Power & Utility has announced that it has been selected by the Burmese government to be “the sole electricity and utility provider” for the Dawei special economic zone and the surrounding area. It is thought that the company has been granted rights to build a 500-megawatt natural gas power plant in Dawei, although a first phase target would be for only 50 megawatts. The statement comes just a few months after the largest Thai construction firm, Ital-Thai pcl, was axed from the deep-sea port project.
- BUSINESS – Yoma plans high-rises over Rangoon heritage site
Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd and First Myanmar Investment Co are to construct two office towers, a commercial centre and other developments on a 10-acre site surrounding the 136-year-old British Burma Railway Company building in downtown Rangoon, according to a statement by the World Bank’s International Finance Corp, which is backing the scheme. The colonial railway building, which is one of Rangoon’s best known heritage sites, is due to be renovated into a Peninsula Hotel in a separate project.
- BRIEF – Govt promises uninterrupted power in Rangoon
Electric Power Minister Khin Maung Soe on Friday pledged uninterrupted power in Rangoon this summer. At the opening ceremony of a Japanese 13-megawatt diesel fired power plant in Tharketa Township, he said the Japanese govt, which backed the US$8m project, were also providing diesel fuel worth another US$8m to run the plant, which the govt says will be used to avoid blackouts if wind and water turbines fall short. The govt is also building a gas turbine in Ahlone Township as well as a turbine each in Thaketa, Ywarma and Hlawga Townships.
- BRIEF – 88GPOS, NCCT to cooperate for peace
The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS) met with the ethnic armed groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) on 8 March, when they reached two agreements: cooperation towards a ceasefire and lasting peace; and facilitation of a “Union Convention”, which would be inclusive for all of the many political forces in Burma. The 88GPOS made a similar pact on 6 March with the United Nationalities Alliance, a coalition of 12 ethnic political parties that won seats in the 1990 general election.
- BRIEF – Open call for recommendations on race, religion bills
A commission formed by the office of the President to draft the Race Protection, Faith Conversion and Population Control bills, has called on the public to submit recommendations for the drafts, which are expected to reach the President by 30 June 2014. The 12-member commission announced the open call in state-run media on Sunday, with a 30 March submission deadline. The invitation is open to “monks and the general population” alike. Suggestions can be sent to the commission’s vice-chairman Win Myint at the Union Attorney General’s Office #25, Naypyidaw, or faxed to 06744107.
- BUSINESS – Rice storage scheme starts 15 March
A rice storage scheme, which will allow farmers to stock surplus rice instead of selling it at low prices during the harvest season, will launch on 15 March, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation’s general-secretary Ye Min Aung. Speaking at an MRF conference in Rangoon on 6 March, the official said that farmers who stock their rice under the scheme – which has UNFAO backing – will be issued insurance documents which can be mortgaged for bank loans.
- BRIEF – Domestic cigarette and alcohol taxes set
Interview InternationalDVB talks toTony Picon, Colliers International
Opinion & Analysis
Road-testing Burma’s wineries By JESSICA MUDDITT
The plight of internally displaced Kachin war victims By PANGMU SHAYI
- 01 Activist groups to register political prisoners past and present
- 02 US accuses Burma of continuing military ties to N Korea
- 03 Reformist govt must acknowledge past: HRDP
- 04 Burma’s rising stars aim for Bayern Munich tournament
- 05 Zarganar to take on Than Shwe through Hollywood
- 01 Implementing Rule of Law requires shift in Burmese mindset
- 02 Police seize land, cut down toddy trees
- 03 Ye Htut supports press freedom – on govt terms
- 04 Duchira Dan commission slams UN, media; denies massacre
- 05 Race Protection Bill drafting commission to be formed
- 06 Arakan alliance
- 07 Shan Chief Minister assures farmers on land issues
- 08 ABSDF 10th Conference begins
- 09 Telenor promises mobile coverage to 90% of Burmese
- 10 Monasteries in Naypyidaw sued for illegal land use
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