“The Myanma Economic Bank and Myanma Agriculture and Development Bank loaned a total of k166 billion to 3733 persons through the Myanmar agro-businesses and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) within the last financial year.”
Union Minister U Soe Win
Intweviwer: Khin Yadanar, Theint Theint Moe
Photos: May Oo Moe
Ministry of Planning and Finance Union Minister U Soe Win and Deputy Ministers discuss the accomplishments of the current government’s third year in administration in the Ministry along with plans for the future of Myanmar’s economic policies.
U Soe Win, Union Minister
Q: Can you tell us about the progress of the Ministry along with some short term/long term plans?
A: The Ministry is approaching projects according to the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2018-2030) and is documenting all of them -public and private- in our project bank. In 2018, the Ministry published the National Disaster Report in June as well as the Export Import Financing Document for the banks. The Myanma Economic Bank and Myanma Agriculture and Development Bank loaned a total of k166 billion to 3733 persons through the Myanmar agro-businesses and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) within the last financial year.
There are also 177 microfinance organizations that have been created to help villagers with their SME businesses. These microfinance organizations located across the country were able to loan up to K6267 billion in the previous financial year. The start of the financial year has also been moved from October 1st to September 30th to avoid holidays as much as possible.
Q: What about the insurance industry?
A: Domestic insurance companies started operations in 2013 when the laws permitted. Currently, there are 3 domestic insurance companies in operation with 8 general joint ventures. There are plans to allow foreign general and life insurance companies in Myanmar with 100% ownership.
Q: There have been plans to change the pension system?
A: The system has been upgraded to a mobile payment system so pensioners can save time and money to travel to their respective banks. There are 8 bank branches as well in Yangon. A Central Provident Fund- CPF is also being discussed to ease the burden on the government for pension payments while making sure we are able to pay the pensioners long term.
Q: What about changes to the tax system?
A: You can now use an MPU Debit Card to pay your taxes at the tax offices. For cargo, we are trying to implement the MACCS (Myanmar Automated Cargo Clearance System) nationwide as it is now fully functioning in Yangon area and the Myawaddy border.
U Maung Maung Win,
Q: Can you explain to us a little bit more about the Ministry?
A: There are 13 departments in the Ministry as well as other sub divisions under them serving their specific functions. Something different our administration is doing is to be as transparent as possible with press conferences, public reports and other releases on the budget on TV and journals. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is also in progress and will be published soon.
Q: Can you give an example of a department under the Ministry and its functions?
A: So there is a Pension Department under the MOPF. As we may all be aware, the government recently increased the amount for pensioners. This not only apply to people who are already on pension but also people who will soon be in the system as well.
Q: What about the new tax law?
A: The Union Tax law was updated in 2018 with its implementation stage set for two years. The board has been formed and will be hearing and deciding on issues to move forward soon. The income tax law is going under review along with plans to move to a digital tax collection system with an Integrated Tax Administration System. The Myanmar Automated Cargo Clearance System has also proven to save the nation a lot of time and other resources so we will be expanding them throughout the nation as well.
Q: What are some plans in place to improve the finance sector?
A: It has been 3 years since the Yangon Stock Exchange first opened for trading. There are 5 companies listed as of today. The government is also implementing tighter enforcements regarding corporate governance in private companies such as cross checking the capabilities of directors and board members. There are also checks on whether the companies abide by the Myanmar Companies Act when foreign investors are involved.
Q: Can you tell us about state owned banks?
A: There are 4 state-owned banks in Myanmar: Myanma Foreign Trade Bank, Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, Myanma Economic Bank, and Myanma Agriculture and Development Bank. The banks have expanded the services they provided such as the introduction of JICA Two-step Loan. There is also the low-interest SME loans and for MFTB and MICB, there is trade financing for businesses that needs loans for export/import businesses. The banks are also introducing digital mobile banking and are trying to phase from the manual system. The Housing Finance program is also introduced to help people own houses on low-interest loans for up to 10/15 years.
U Set Aung, Deputy Minister
Q: What are some tasks of the MOPF?
A: The Ministry focuses on two main tasks: Planning and Finance. The main task is to combine these two to produce a national finance plan. First of all, the Ministry has to consider the policy direction so we can plan what we want to achieve. Second is to build a Policy Implementation Matrix with details on how the path to achieve the goals on the policy direction trajectory. These were the weaknesses we had before. Now, not only we are able to adopt a policy direction but also draw up a policy matrix and then have a project bank to keep track of the progress.
Q: How important is planning?
A: There is a Strategic Plan with details on how to implement the steps and achieve the goals. The Ministry right now have a project bank in an electronic database to keep track of the projects that are being executed so it moves the Strategic Plan forward. Then, these plans are thrown to the public investors so that they can compete (both private and public sector companies) on tenders so we have the best people executing these projects.
(Translated by Myat Thu)