Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes pitch to local and foreign investors

Myanmar's State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi speaks during Myanmar Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 at Myanmar International Convention Center (MICC-2) in Naypyitaw, on 22 October 2016. Photo: Min Min/Mizzima

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has made a pitch to local and foreign investors, pledging that there would be transparency and accountability in the country’s economic system.

At a meeting with entrepreneurs and development partners in Nay Pyi Taw on October 21, the State Counsellor clarified a clearer legal framework and opportunities in the economic sectors in an attempt to relieve the concerns of the entrepreneurs over their position in the country’s “new economic system”.

She also urged the citizens of the country to participate in her government’s efforts to help with economic development.

“We’ll not be retrospective and or retroactive. We’ll only be looking forward. In this function,I’d like to invite not only the local entrepreneurs but also our good friends abroad as well as those entrepreneurs who are interested in investing in our country. Our national development requires concerted effort,” she said told the business people.

She also called for upgrading the capacity-building of the citizens,considering it as the most important factor in national development.

“Only when we base sustainable development on the capacity of our countrymen, we can achieve our goal of national development for the long term,” she said.

In retrospect, she said Myanmar was once famous for its potential for development, but now this fame has diminished.

“But with the change of time, we’ve been provided with new opportunities,” she said. “Grasping these opportunities,we need to make collective effort for development. Please be aware that we can reach our goal only through diligent effort.”

State Counsellor Suu Kyi also stressed the importance of the rule of law for the success of the businesses saying that the rule law is meant for secure and systematic development,not for imposing of restriction byway of strict laws.

“Only when there prevails the rule of law, we can attract the foreign investors,” she said.

She also said that the new government has not seen rapid economic development within the past six months, calling on the attendees to help the new government with genuine efforts to be able to overcome the challenges.

Regarding economic policy,the government has already unveiled a 12-point policy plan in July. 

Since then, the new government has drawn criticism from people over this 12-point policy which is considered rather general. A more specific policy has been called for.

The State Counsellor a expressed the government’s commitment to modernising the agricultural sector of the country.

“The agricultural sector is our main sector because of the majority of our people are dependent upon this sector. This being so, we have an objective to modernize agriculture in our economic policy. Modernisation is also needed to look forward. We want this to be proactive planning,” said the State Counsellor.

She continued to say that the government has formed a committee with donor nations, donor organisations and development partners as Myanmar has a lot of friends and many organizations who want to help the country.

“In fact, our success is global success. The success of our people is that of the whole globe,” she added.

The committee is chaired by State Counsellor Suu Kyi while the Union Minister for Planning and Finance Kyaw Win is vice chairman. The body collectively decides as to which sectors are the most needy.

“In so doing, there will be transparency and accountability.In this regard, accountability means not only that of our country people but also that of the donor nations. Of course, a nation’s finance comes from its nationals. As this is the public finance, the public has the right to know how the public funds are being used,” said the State Counsellor.

“They also have the right to participate in our decision-making process to a certain extent.However, it is quite difficult to formulate polices which will be in accord with the entire mass of people. This is where a government comes in. But it is important to know what the government will be held accountable for their decisions and actions in performance of its duties,” she added.

Regarding development,she invited both the government members involved in formulation of the national economic policy, the donors and also local entrepreneurs to express their respective views on how development should start.

Referring to local successful businessmen in the country including top 158 tax payers attending the meeting, the State Counsellor stressed the importance of paying tax to support the country.

“Being a tax payer is a matter to be proud of. This is also the duty of the people. I’ve very often heard citizens from other countries saying boastfully that they are regular taxpayers, and so, they deserve all the rights,” she said.

The tax payers deserve all the rights saying that paying full taxes is deserving full rights, and this should be the country’s philosophy.

She also stressed the need to build a culture under which people pay taxes of their own will. To be able to build this culture,the country needs the correct and proper tax laws first.Then, they should be written in a reader-friendly style, she said.

Suu Kyi also urged the entrepreneurs to behave like role models,calling for leading the awareness promotion activities and convince the people that they are good citizens because they do not evade paying of taxes.

She stressed that national development should be all inclusive,urging the entrepreneurs to be upright quoting an old adage, “Right man in the right place.”

“As you all know, the key to success of a business is the trust, which can be earned only through doing things properly. We should let the world know we’redoing business in the right manner.To put it in a nutshell, we need to be free from corruption caused by greed, anger, fear and ignorance. We can’t do things according to our whims and fancies. We’ve to do things within the bounds of law,” she said.

She also urged the entrepreneurs to make formal complaints any time to her office directly or to the ministries concerned.

“Be courageous to complain to the ministries,” she said. “You need to keep the clean ministers well informed of what’s happening under their ministries.”

“I want all the people to realise they are also responsible in the fight against corruption. So I’d like to request you citizens to make formal complaints to the high-ranking public officials and ministers. This is also your duty to make formal complaints,”she added.

To fight corruption in the country, she emphasized the duty of the government to upgrade and update the country’s education system in order that the educational qualification of the people can be upgraded.

“I want the educational authorities to lay stress on professional and vocational education.The current education system lays emphasis on tertiary education.We need more professional and vocational products than the university graduates to enhance our development,” she said.

She called on educated persons not to be self-centered but to be ready for the country’s sake.

Concerning the businessmen who have been labeled cronies, shes aid that it is a very sad situation that they have been accused of seeking self interest informing an unholy alliance with the authorities, and they are said to be doing business not within the framework of the law.

“I am really sorry to hear such accusations. Why should our people be so much divided among ourselves? Are such cronies the majority, seeking their self-interest only? If it’s true, it is a very sad situation,”she said.

The State Counsellor continued to say that they should not tie themselves to the past and should be able to proceed, drawing lessons from their past.Concerning the Myanmar Investment Law, she said that the government enacted this law in such a way as to attract foreign investors, expressing her sympathy to those who are worried that they may not be able to compete with the bigger, stronger foreign investors.

“Believe in yourself. Our duty is to help you solve your problems, ease the difficulty,” she said, “but,  becoming rich in a proper way is good.”

“Please forget the past and try to be upright from now on,” said the State Counsellor.

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