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Strategic Management

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Best Western enters Myanmar
Best Western International (BWI), the U.S.-based global hotel chain, has opened its first hotel in Myanmar, the Best Western Green Hill Hotel in Yangon, company sources say.

BWI becomes the first U.S. hotel company to establish a presence in Myanmar, following the recent political and economic reforms enacted by the Thein Sein administration that have drawn foreign investors’ interest.

The hotel is situated in the heart of Yangon, just 15 minutes’ drive from the Shwedagon Pagoda. It has 189 air-conditioned rooms featuring 32-inch flat-screen televisions with international satellite channels, bathrooms with bathtubs and showers, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

It also offers three meeting rooms offering more than 200 square metres of functioning space for business people. There is also a restaurant that serves a selection of Chinese, Asian and international cuisine.

“The launch of Best Western International’s first hotel in Myanmar means the company now has a presence in nine ASEAN countries. Best Western International is planning to announce further developments in Myanmar in the near future,” BWI said in a statement.

Next year the company will launch its first hotel in the country’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw, the statement said.

“There is no doubt that Myanmar is one of the world’s hottest hotel markets at present, with a major increase in new hotel supply needed to cater for a huge influx of guests. So it is vital that hotel owners in the country choose the right partners to ensure optimum performance at their properties,” said Glenn de Souza, the firm’s vice president of international operations for Asia and the Middle East.

“Best Western International wants to form long and lasting partnerships in Myanmar; we want to be here for the long-term, to help grow the country’s tourism industry. Our partnership with the Green Hill Hotel is just the start of our plans for Myanmar.”

De Souza also expressed confidence in the Myanmar project, adding that BWI’s proven track record in the Asian hotel market will enable the Green Hill Hotel to not only increase occupancy and average rates, but also broaden its geographical guest mix.

Best Western International is the world’s largest hotel chain with more than 4,000 independently owned and operated member hotels in more than 100 countries worldwide. Since 1946, Best Western has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000 guests worldwide each night.
Gov’t to provide electricity for 10,000 villages next year
Tuesday, December 24, 2013 Comments (0)
The Myanmar government is planning to provide electricity next year for 10,000 villages that have yet to access electricity, said Myint Oo, deputy director-general at the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development.

Currently, only 20,000 of the 64,000 villages in Myanmar have access to electricity.
“We didn’t set a deadline to give electricity to all the villages. Next year, we will work to provide electricity for 10,000 villages. In 2015, we will provide electricity to another 10,000 villages. More than 40,000 villages still do not have electricity access,” said Myint Oo.

The World Bank, Asia Development Bank, and Japan International Cooperation Agency have pledged to help with the electricity supply for Myanmar villages, he added.

“As of today, we’ve given light to more than 20,000 villages. This is what we have done in less than one year. Some villages also did it on their own. Next year, we plan to give electricity to 10,000 villages, but budget is important,” said Myint Oo, adding that the government will need to work together with local and foreign aid groups to reach its ultimate target of universal access.
This is welcome news for village residents.

“Although ours is a country rich in natural resources, we can’t even access electricity yet. If the government really wants to develop rural areas, electricity plays a crucial role in improving our living standard,” said Than Myint from Shwe Pan Taw Village, Thegon Township, Bago Region.
Construction starts on Japan-Myanmar JV industrial complex in Yangon
Monday, December 02, 2013 Comments (0)
The construction of a joint venture industrial complex between Japanese and Myanmar companies started Saturday in Yangon with an official ribbon-cutting and ground-breaking ceremony held at the site.

The industrial complex, located inside the Thilawa Sepecial Economic Zone, about 23 kilometers south of the city center of Yangon, is expected to draw businesses involved in apparel, car manufacturing and other services, upon its completion in 2015.

The consortium, joined by three major Japanese trading firms, the government of Myanmar and nine local Myanmar companies, plans to prepare roads, sewage treatment equipment and other infrastructure at the 400-hectare area inside the 2,400-hectare Thilawa Special Economic Zone.

Mitsubishi Corp., Marubeni Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. will jointly hold a 49 percent stake in the consortium, to be capitalized at $100 million, while the remaining 51 percent will be owned by the Myanmar government and local private companies.

Speaking at the ceremony held at the construction site, Set Aung, chairman of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone management committee, said the event signifies "closer and stronger relationship and friendship" between Myanmar and Japan, adding that the project would open up "a new chapter" in the history of Myanmar, a largely untapped market in Asia.

The development of the Thilawa SEZ, the first-ever special economic zone in Myanmar, would not only contribute to the economic development of the country, but also to the locals residing in and around the area with increased employment opportunities, income, and consumption, he said.

He expressed hope that the project would attract more foreign investment to Myanmar, and pledged cooperation with the developers and the investing companies for the successful establishment of the SEZ.

"We stand ready for better coordination, facilitation and to provide any necessary assistance to all the stakeholders, especially to the developers as well as investors," Set Aung said.

Yoshihiko Isozaki, parliamentary vice minister of economy, trade and industry of Japan, who attended the ceremony as a guest of honor, said in his speech that the project would create job opportunities for ordinary Myanmar people.

"It is important that job opportunities can be created by receiving investments from abroad, so that the people of Myanmar can enjoy the fruits of the reforms," Isozaki said.

Many Japanese companies remain undecided about investing in Myanmar due to procedural complications, and so solving such issues to pave the way for potential investors to actually come in and create jobs for the locals would be the key to the success of the Thilawa SEZ, he added.
Japan launches initiative to “export” postal system to Myanmar
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 Comments (0)
Japan has launched an initiative to modernise Myanmar’s postal system by introducing its fast, efficient and precise services in the Southeast Asian country.

The initiative is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic revitalisation plans featuring exports of its advanced technologies and services to other countries, especially developing countries in Asia.

Japan and Myanmar have held three rounds of working-level talks so far, but Japanese officials believe it would take a lot of time to introduce the Japanese-style postal services in Myanmar where people are not even used to writing postal codes.

“It takes a week or so in Myanmar to get mail and parcels delivered from the northernmost to the southernmost part of the country,” said Masatoshi Kawano, a Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications official involved in the initiative.

“But media reports that postal items frequently get lost in Myanmar may be exaggerated,” Kawano said.

“We all know Myanmar’s economy will grow more, so better postal services will definitely be necessary to support growth.

“The Japanese postal system delivers 98 percent of all postal items within two days, no matter where in the country the sender and receiver are.

During an inspection of Tokyo post offices on the sidelines of bilateral postal talks in May, Myanmar Communications and Information Minister Myat Hein appeared to have been impressed with Japanese workers sorting items efficiently and serving customers well.

In September, Myat Hein met again with his Japanese counterpart Yoshitaka Shindo to confirm their commitment to start actual work in 2014, while Vietnam became the second country to reach a similar postal support agreement with Japan.

Kawano, director of the International Affairs Office at the ministry’s Postal Services Policy Department, cited the difficulty of teaching local workers the Japanese way of providing postal services as his major concern.
Myanmar vows to build more power plants to meet public demand
Thursday, November 14, 2013 Comments (0)
Myanmar Minister of Electric Power U Khin Maung Soe has stressed the need to build more power plants in the country to meet public demand, official media reported Wednesday.

U Khin Maung Soe made the emphasis at the ongoing parliament session in clarifying the planned electricity price hike.

Under a 30-year electricity strategic development plan, the country's power supply till the fiscal year 2012-13 should have been 4,910 megawatts, he said, while blaming it got only 3,600 mw till to date, reported the New Light of Myanmar.

Given the public demand of 8,929 mw, there was a shortage of around 5,000 mw as the country failed to build seven hydropower, three thermal and two coal-fired power plants, he clarified, attributing the failure to financial difficulties.

He further clarified that Myanmar's power consumption, which has increased by 15 percent annually, is likely to reach 3,000 mw by 2015 with summer power demand estimated to stand at 2,370 mw in 2014.

He disclosed that the currently running power stations can generate 1,655 mw in maximum, emphasizing the need to build three power plants each with an installed capacity of 500 mw at a cost of 2.1 billion US dollars to meet the power demand of 3,000 mw in 2015 and 4,000 mw in 2016.

He called for local and foreign investment in the projects, saying that the government alone cannot afford to implement it.

Meanwhile, the parliament on Tuesday temporarily suspended the electricity price hike by the electric power ministry in response to an interim proposal urging to bring down the electricity price hike.

The parliament made the decision following days' protest against the measure introduced by the authorities, adding the issue will remain under review until the start of the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The ministry's Yangon City Electricity Supply Board announced on October 29 it will raise by nearly two times the electricity prices starting immediately from the month of November in order to cover the production and purchase cost of electricity to a certain extent.

Myanmar to open over 800 private gas stations
Monday, December 23, 2013 Comments (0)
The Myanmar authorities have granted green light to the opening of 801 private fuel filling stations in the country this year, local media reported Sunday.

Altogether 1,243 applicants have sought license for operating private gas stations since 2010, said the 7-Day News, adding that the remaining 442 applicants are under scrutiny for permission.

Privately-owned gas stations were allowed in Myanmar since June 2010, before which all gas stations were run by the government.
IFC Works with Myanmar Government to Generate Investment and Improve Business Environment
Friday, December 20, 2013 Comments (1)
In Hanoi:
Chu Van Anh
Phone: +844 3943 8745
E-mail: canh1@ifc.org

IFC Works with Myanmar Government to Generate Investment and Improve Business Environment

Naypyidaw, Myanmar, December 20, 2013—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today signed a memorandum of understanding with Myanmar’s Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development to support its efforts to improve the country’s investment policy and regulation framework. This will make it easier to do business in Myanmar and help stimulate domestic private sector growth and attract sustainable foreign investment.

IFC will work with the ministry on a new investment law and regulations to improve protection for both foreign and domestic investors and streamline investment approval procedures to promote a business enabling environment. By combining the two existing separate laws for local and foreign investors, the new law aims to create a level playing field for all businesses.

“The cooperation with IFC will help accelerate our continued efforts to create a more business-friendly environment for both domestic and foreign investors,” said U Aung Naing Oo, Director General of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development. “We will be able to enhance our own investment policy and business regulations through this cooperation and hope to learn from international best practices.”

IFC will also help Myanmar implement investment climate reforms in top priority areas, including promoting a public-private dialogue platform to facilitate the reform process.

“Together with the World Bank, IFC is supporting the government’s economic reforms aimed at strengthening the private sector as a key driver for economic growth and employment in Myanmar,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC Resident Representative for Myanmar. “Improving Myanmar’s investment policy and strengthening the regulatory framework will encourage private sector investment and increased competition within Myanmar as the country becomes more integrated with ASEAN and the rest of the world.”

IFC is supporting the government’s market-oriented reforms by providing advisory services and investment to strengthen the private sector. This will create investment opportunities and jobs that will benefit the population and lead to greater shared prosperity. IFC is also working with the government and financial sector to improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises and to increase financial inclusion through microfinance. Efforts are also underway to assist with private sector involvement in infrastructure, with an initial focus on the power and telecommunications sectors.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. Working with private enterprises in more than 100 countries, we use our capital, expertise, and influence to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. In FY13, our investments climbed to an all-time high of nearly $25 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit www.ifc.org…...

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