Regional growth just as important as major cities

Regional growth just as important as major cities

A new report by International Growth Centre (IGC), a research centre based in the UK, has stated that Myanmar’s economic development depends just as much on regional capitals as it does on the major cities of Yangon and Mandalay.

The report highlighted how important it is to develop secondary cities as part of the established plan for boosting the main cities in the country. The research centre is based at the LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science) and is partnered with Oxford University. It has offices in London and Yangon and has released the report called Urban Myanmar.

Strategic growth centres

The three main growth centres as part of the government’s economic strategy for Myanmar are Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw.

Yangon takes its place as a crucial growth centre as it leads the country’s financial and commercial services, as well as exports due to its ports. Mandalay is up there as it is a major trading hub for northern Myanmar and should play a big part in many initiatives. Nay Pyi Taw retains its importance due to being the centre for the government.

However, the main thrust of the report warns against relying too much on the development of Yangon’s economy. It argues that inclusive development is vital, including the growth of regional capitals and secondary cities.

Cities like Yangon attract a lot of investment from overseas and develop quickly. They are busy importing new technologies for manufacturing, for example, giving firms based there an advantage. This can be seen with the garment factories that are situated on the border of Yangon, as well as the industries thriving in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone.

Moving industry out beyond key cities

The report said that secondary cities need to be connected with their regional towns and the main tier cities. This, along with border town and agro-industrial centres being linked will help to allow production to spread away from the main cities.

Secondary cities should be seen as regional hubs that are strategically very important for commercial gain. Similarly, the development of towns on the borders of cities can help to boost trade and support a national identity for the country.

Urban planning vital
Along with these suggestions, the report also says that urban planning is the key to make sure that cities become hubs of economic activity rather than centres of congestion and problems.

The three channels that make productive urban areas:

  • Deep local product and labour markets that allow workers and companies to find jobs or fill positions quickly.
  • Higher wages that attract workers to the cities.
  • Availability of intermediary services.

These have all contributed to the success of Yangon’s growing economy and workforce and need to be implemented in other cities, as well as regional towns for the growth of the country’s overall economy.

Htet Tayza

Networks in Myanmar finally get 4G

In a move that can only improve business and the economy as a whole, Myanmar can now go 4G. Local telecom operators can now use the 1800MHz range that has been allocated by the government.

The Posts and Telecommunications Department, which comes under the government’s Ministry of Transportation and Communication, has granted permission to Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), Telenor Myanmar Ltd and Ooredoo Myanmar Ltd to use the 1800MHz spectrum. Using this, operators will expand the networks to 4G.

The permission was granted on 15 May 2017, and comes with a 12-year licence. Permission has gone specifically to mobile operators that have been awarded a nationwide telecoms licence. They are paying a fee of $80 million to use this spectrum.

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Piloting blockchain technology in Myanmar

Myanmar is at the forefront of the piloting of blockchain technology – an innovative way of making online transactions easier. The technology, that uses a shared digital ledger to record transactions across a number of computers, was used recently by BC Finance, the biggest microfinance institution in Myanmar.

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Transparency is key to attract investment

Experts from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar (SECM) held a business forum at the Stock Exchange in Yangon recently. Its aim was to discuss the best ways to attract investment and increase stakeholder confidence.

Listed firms were invited to hear key speakers discuss disclosure and transparency standards in reporting. The conference was called Enhancing corporate transparency trends and a business case on transparent reporting and ongoing disclosure and was held with input from the UK Department for International Development and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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World Bank urges Myanmar government to implement changes in finance sector

A report (called the Observance of Standards and Codes or ROSC) from the World Bank and International Money Fund (IMF) has just been released.

Among its findings were that the revisions the government has made to its statutory institutional framework for accounting and financial reporting will align the country much more with international good practice. It praised the ‘good progress’ that has been made with the suggested amendments to the framework, but notes that these changes are yet to be finalised.

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Economic progress hasn’t yet reached Myanmar’s rural children

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that while progress has been made in terms of economic growth in Myanmar, life is still difficult for children in remote areas.

A report by the United Nations shows that the government’s reforms and efforts at reconciliation and improving the economy still leave around 2.2 million kids in desperate need of humanitarian help. Most of these children are in the remote areas of the particularly conflict-ridden regions of the country.

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Political stability and the economy

In order for any burgeoning economy to find its feet and work for the country, political stability is key. And nowhere more so than in Myanmar. After so many decades of military dictatorship, the economy is new, delicate, and growing rapidly.

According to EU ambassador Roland Kobia in an interview with The Myanmar Times, the importance of the country’s political stability can’t be underestimated.

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The Many Advantages of Mobile Banking

Technology and banking are now inextricably linked. Over the last decade, the two have combined to form a new and ever evolving way of doing business in the finance industry, whether personal, business, investing or any kind of fund management.

The term FinTech (financial technology) has emerged as an umbrella word for all sorts of technological advances in banking. It can refer to smartphone Apps that give instant access to bank accounts to websites offering financial advice without high costs or long waits.

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Fintech arrives in Myanmar

With a newly burgeoning economy and an open market for the first time in 50 years, along with rapid advances in technology, Myanmar is ripe for fintech companies to offer new products and services.

All around the world, technology is transforming people’s access to financial management services, whether for personal use or for investment and business. Fintech start-ups are now capitalising on Myanmar’s speedy development and growing use of smartphones. It’s a market ready for low cost, user friendly, accessible financial products accessible online, whether from a computer or a smartphone.

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Will Myanmar’s economy mirror Vietnam’s growth?

Myanmar undoubtedly faces challenges when it comes to opening up its economy in order to flourish in the future.

According to a leading British diplomat, Myanmar has the potential to grow its economy by as much as 10 per cent, effectively following in the footsteps of Vietnam’s economic growth. In comments made at Bloomberg’s conference in Yangon recently, he went on to say that Myanmar needs to be speedy when it comes to opening up markets and making new policy in order to enjoy this growth.

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