Myanmar Monitor


Photo credit: Asian Journal

Economy, Investment and Trade

Biomass comes to Myanmar
A Japanese consortium has led the development of Myanmar’s first biomass plant over the last five months. The rice husk gasification power plant comes at a price tag of US$4.7 million and is the first project in the Integrated Rice Complex Project being developed throughout the country by Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corp. The corporation is a private business established in 2012 to invest in the country’s agricultural and agro-based industries. The plant’s 0.5 megawatts will be used for the operation of rice mills in the same complex as well as to power nearby villages.
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Businesses disappointed with slow government reforms
Businesses are disappointed that government led reforms have not kept pace with private-sector led growth in Myanmar. Corporate leaders are concerned that the economy is not the priority of the current government. Companies continue to contend with issues such a power cuts because the government has yet to sign a deal for two separate 300 megawatt power projects. Infrastructure projects in areas of transport, water and roads are also seeing slow progress. Business executives are also concerned about small scale reforms which are lagging behind – changes which would make doing business easier such as making bank payments, agreeing on long-term property leases, paying taxes and employing people.
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Controversial dam project to see resolution soon
A government appointed commission is to make a decision on whether to go ahead with the controversial Myitsone Dam. The US$3.6 billion project is financed by China and is unpopular among the residents of the area, many of whom were relocated some six years ago to make way for the dam. The project, a legacy of the former military government, has fallen upon Aang San Su Kyi and her National League for Democracy to deal with. This is one of the largest Chinese-funded projects the former ruling junta agreed upon. It is controversial as it is the first such project to cross the Irrawaddy River, an important river for Myanmar’s ethnic majority.
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Internal and Foreign Affairs

NLD wins Myanmar by-elections amidst low voter turnout;
By-elections took place in Myanmar on 1 April to replace politicians who had vacated their positions to take ministerial positions after the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) triumphant win in 2015. However, this time around while the NLD took nine out of 19 seats in the regional and national parliaments the voter turnout was much lower. The turnout was estimated to be around 40 percent in contrast to the 69 percent for the 2015 elections. There were some upsets such as in the Mon state where the NLD lost a seat to the main opposition party – the Union Solidarity and Development Party.
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Aang San Suu Kyi says no ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state
In a rare interview Aang San Suu Kyi while acknowledging the issues in Rakhine state has said that ethnic cleansing is “too strong” a term to use for the conflict. She said that Muslims were also killing other Muslims if they are working with the authorities. Suu Kyi said that there is a divide there which they are trying to close. She also denied that the army has free reign to do what they want in the area while admitting that her government has yet to regain control of the them. She added that while creating jobs was a government priority, achieving peace in areas with unrest was also of equal urgency.
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