Foreign investment backlog amid delay naming new review panel

About 100 foreign investment applications are waiting to be approved because of a delay appointing a new review committee, a Ministry of Finance official has told the Nikkei Asian Review.

The bottleneck on approvals could deter investors, the weekly magazine said in a June 3 report on its website.

No foreign investments have been approved since the end of March, when the terms of the Myanmar Investment Commission’s nine members expired after the National League for Democracy government took office.

MIC secretary U Aung Naing Oo said last week the new members would be appointed in June and the process would take only a few weeks, the Myanmar Times reported on June 1.

The Nikkei Asian Review report suggested that the delay in appointing new members to the MIC was due to State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s heavy workload.

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The selection process for new members was yet to begin at the end of May, the NAR said.

The report noted that MIC members were appointed by the president but said Suu Kyi would preside over MIC appointments in her capacity as state counsellor.

The government was eager to appoint a new committee but Suu Kyi was “already stretched thin” because she also serves as foreign minister, NAR said.

“She just doesn’t have the time to be considering personnel matters for special committees,” a diplomatic source told the magazine.

It said the Asian Development Bank had forecast gross domestic product to grow 8.4 percent in fiscal 2016.

“Foreign investment is key for the country to achieve the fastest projected growth rate in Southeast Asia,” NAR said.

Foreign investment rose 18 percent in fiscal 2015 to about US$9.5 billion, the second highest on record, it said.

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