Businesses deny consultation on MIC foreign investment restrictions


YANGON — Business groups have told Frontier that they were not aware of the Myanmar Investment Commission’s moves to prohibit foreign stakes in some industries, despite the commission’s claims of wide consultation before a draft order was published last week.

The MIC has outlined restrictions on foreign investment in 15 industries, including Burmese and ethnic language printing, forestry, visa brokerage and parts of the agriculture, mining, retail and tourism sectors.

A representative of the law and policy department of the Directorate of Company Administration, a unit of the MIC, said that the commission had held extensive discussions with business leaders and the Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry before the draft order was published.

“We already discussed twice at UMFCCI with businessmen and experts, but we need to propose to the Union cabinet and they will decide the final result,” the representative said.

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However U Myint Kyaw, a member of the Myanmar News Media Council, a statutory body established to regulate and represent media companies, told Frontier that it had no knowledge of the draft order before it was released to the public.

“MIC and DICA, they were never discussed with our press council the ban of press and printing businesses for foreign investment. Never,” he said Monday, adding that foreign investment may be a necessary step to underwrite local media companies.

One MIC member, who asked not to be named, told Frontier that committee members had not consulted widely enough before reaching the draft decision.

“DICA and the MIC met with business people of a limited expertise,” they said. “They need to do more discussions with real business leaders and experts representative of all sectors. They have not which is why I think they are being criticised.”

The Myanmar Investment Law, enacted last October, grants the MIC power to restrict and prohibit foreign investment so long as decisions are made in accordance with “national policy objectives”.

U Myat Thin Aung, a central executive committee member of the UMFCCI, said the draft had been published to preview the potential changes for foreign investors and further revisions were possible.

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