Local and foreign investors are losing confidence in the Myanmar government’s economic policies, according to a June 29 report on The Irrawaddy, an online news site run by Myanmar journalists.
The report refers to a survey by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry that shows that short-term positive business sentiment has fallen from 73% in 2016 to 49% this year, with a majority of businesspeople citing the lack of clear economic policy from the National League for Democracy-led government.
In July 2016, four months after taking office, the NLD government issued a 12-point economic manifesto aimed at supporting competition and increasing the vibrancy of the private sector, privatizing certain state-owned enterprises, and improving infrastructure development and the agriculture sector.
The manifesto also outlined a policy for creating job opportunities and encouraging foreign investment, as well as overhauling the financial system to help small and medium enterprises thrive in the market. However, many investors have become disappointed, as the government has been slow to honor those pledges.
A major problem appears to be that Myanmar’s economy is in the hands of people with little or no experience in business. The Irrawaddy report quotes Dr Myint Htwe, who served as chief economic adviser to the former president Thein Sein, as saying that the government needs to engage with people who are qualified in business, finance and other crucial sectors in order to ensure economic growth.
People close to the government would argue that they inherited an economy that had been devastated by decades of mismanagement, and it will take time to get it right.