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WTO slams state-owned businesses in Myanmar

Myanmar   Spending a lot, returning not so much

The losses of state-owned businesses amount to 5 percent of the Myanmar's gross domestic product as they spend 75 percent of the government's budget, according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The WTO held a workshop on its first trade policy review in Kandawgyi Palace Hotel in Yangon on January 23.

It is suggesting that the government tries to reform loss-making businesses by reviewing weak financial systems, technology, its market approach and the lack of skilled labour.

Min Min, deputy director-general of the directorate of trade at the Ministry of Commerce, said: "We are now reviewing some problems in the process of the handover of state-owned businesses to the private sector under the previous government. Now the government would not allocate a budget for its businesses. It would either disburse loans to them or run them as joint ventures. We are changing our policies."

WTO members have urged Myanmar to privatise state-owned businesses and increase transparency.

The WTO welcomes green lights for foreign telecom operators, investment in the transport sector, overseas investment permits for hotels and efforts to draw up a master plan by the Central Bank of Myanmar.

The global body is urging Myanmar to increase competitiveness in service delivery by ensuring greater transparency in foreign investment regulations and creating a healthy business environment.

The Myanmar government has decided to accept the WTO's review on trade policy. Fact-finding studies have been carried out by the WTO since mid-2012 and its review was released last March.


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