“The government is trying to re-draft laws for businesses in Myanmar so that it will attract foreign investors. The Foreign Investment Law is one of those.”
- By Win Win Maw
The Yangon Regional Government is putting up their best efforts to improve the nation’s economy through Yangon’s development. Global New Light of Myanmar met with the Regional Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein to discuss the regional accomplishments in the 3rd year of the current administration.
Q: What are challenges facing the Yangon Regional Government ?
A: There are challenges to every new administration. We are facing quite a lot of floods here in Yangon from the overflow of trenches and ditches. This was our first priority and we have managed to clear out quite a few of the waterway blockage. Another problem is trash in alleyways. We are aiming for trash-free public places. Right now, we are clearing up the mountains of trash that has accumulated over the past decade. The problem can’t be solved just by clearing the existing trash – we have to change our attitudes towards throwing away trash irresponsibly in non-designated areas.
Q: What about improvements in public transportation?
A: Because Yangon is densely populated city, ease of transportation is important. We are trying to plan our city for better traffic flow since when the cities were first built (and planned yet again) by the previous governments, they didn’t have Smart Cities in mind. This creates problems especially traffic jams since the infrastructures (roads, bridges) couldn’t handle the extra load. Hopefully, by urban planning, we can overcome this.
Water Buses are also an option. However, it can only be operated on the Yangon River. Safety is currently our main concern as there are a lot of old bridges on some potential routes of the Water Buses. This is why we are not able to operate on the Nga Moe Yeik side just yet. Regarding rail transportation, quite a number of railway stations were upgraded as well as connected to several roads.
Q: Can you explain to us about water management for Yangon Area?
A: Access to clean and safe water is important for our residents. The main concern is distribution which Yangon City Development Committee in charge of. We are currently using groundwater to supply the city as well as the water pumped from the streams and rivers. The reliant on groundwater is risky as if we are not careful, seawater can get into the ground water sources or we simply run out of ground water. So the administration is trying to keep up with the changes on that.
Q: What about the rule of law and general improvement within the cities?
A: For rule of law, it is not the job of the Myanmar Police Force alone. With a little help from technology, improvements are being made so not all the responsibility falls on the police. For example, there are traffic control centers which allows the police to monitor CCTVs from their common center. There are efforts to upgrade Yangon to become a Smart City. For example, in Dagon Lay Township, we are trying to lay out new concrete roads as much as the budget allows. There are also plans to build more roads and bridges if our new budget gets approved. The main objectives of these initiatives are to preserve our history in older buildings, keeping Yangon green while trying to elevate Yangon as an economic hub. For instance, the secretariat is currently under renovation. With the help of the Yangon City Heritage Trust, there has been around 28 buildings that got preserved and are branded a historical building that can’t be demolished or modified without approval.
With the improvements and preservation of infrastructure, there is also another element of keeping Yangon’s environment green. Yangon parks are thriving and we hope they will maintain the same way. The government is trying to also plant more trees not only in Yangon but the whole country so that future generations can reap the benefits. If you can’t balance nature and development right, these improvements will not benefit not only the current generation but every after.
Q: What about investments on a Regional level that is help catapulting Yangon to become an economic hub?
A: The government is trying to re-draft laws for businesses in Myanmar so that it will attract foreign investors. The Foreign Investment Law is one of those. Every year, we have two specific meetings for foreign investors in Myanmar. The incoming investments help development not only the localities but also entire industrial zones. There are 29 industrial zones and special economic zones in Myanmar. Quite a handful is foreign investments that employs up to thousands of employees and help build their capacities. Plans to create more vocational training schools are in order. This will build the skillsets of the worker and hopefully, allow them to get them better jobs which will give them a better salary and benefits.
People want food on the table. Shelter is also another necessity. According to a report by Asian Development Bank, there will need to be 100,000 apartments that need to be built annually to keep up with the growing population. If we can’t keep up, we will be facing a problem with squatters that will undermine the rule of law. The national government is giving support to the regional government as well as well the relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Construction.
Q: Any other comments?
A: Our main aim is to go forwards. It is not guaranteed that we will reach our goals within the 3-year’s mark. However, it is important to get forward compared to the previous year. We will continue to strive for providing the best we can for the development and a comfortable quality of life for our people.
Translated by Myat Thu