Some investors from Singapore may not be Singaporean but are based in the island-nation. Many companies investing in Myanmar from Singapore are multinationals that set up regional headquarters in the Lion City said U Aung Naing Oo, the ministry’s permanent secretary at a meeting on streamlining investment in Nay Pyi Taw last week. In 2018-2019 fiscal year (October – April), Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) approved foreign investment worth US$2.5 billion but foreign investments in the country have been declining for the past four years. There are prohibitions and restrictions everywhere and a lot of things need to be done to improve the business climate in the country but the discussions are under way to relax the restrictions, said U Aung Naing Oo.
U Thant Zin Lwin, acting director general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, said the government has been finding ways to make it easier for foreign investors to come to the country. He noted that in 2016, parliament enacted a new investment law and relaxed regulations on land matters. “In the past, it was required to show a distinct (land) grant. Sometimes, not even the copy but also the original grant had to be submitted. Now the regulations are not that strict. We approve a proposal even if there is no solid proof of land ownership and the land zoning change proposal is submitted to the Central Farmland Administration Committee,” he said.
Local and foreign economists said political instability in the country, such as the Rakhine humanitarian crisis, as well as business and investment policy issues have spooked many potential investors. They said many investors have opted to invest instead in nearby Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, where the business climate is more favorable and investment policies are clear.