[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

USDA and business dealings

Burma News:

USDA Meeting
Singapore/SLORC propoganda on business expansion
Yunnan/SLORC business dealings

          Copyright 1994 The British Broadcasting
Corporation                            BBC Summary
of World Broadcasts

                        September 19, 1994,
Monday.....SECTION: Part 3 Asia - Pacific;
Special USDA general meeting reported.....SOURCE:
Radio Burma, Rangoon, in Burmese 1330 gmt 15 Sep
94.....BODY:    Editorial report
The radio reported on the opening of "the 1994
special annual general meeting of the Union
Solidarity and Development Association [USDA]"
which was held in the Union Hall of the Public
Relations Unit in Hmawbi on 15th September. The
opening session of the meeting was attended by
members of the State Law and Order Restoration
Council [SLORC], members of the cabinet, the chief
justice, the attorney general, the auditor
general, patrons and executive committee members
of the USDA, senior civilian and military
officials, divisional and local commanders,
chairmen of the law and order restoration councils
from states and divisions, representatives of mass
organizations, local and foreign journalists,
students who passed the 1994 high school
examination with outstanding honours, other
students and youths from states and divisions,
observers and invited guests.
Senior Gen Than Shwe, patron of the USDA, chairman
of the SLORC, and C-in-C of the Defence Services,
delivered an address, noting the significance of
today's meeting, which marked the first
anniversary of the founding of USDA and "which
would review the work of the USDA at different
levels and submit proposals which would continue
to serve the nation and the people." He said
members of the USDA constitute "a reliable
national force" and called on the members and
executive members to constantly strive to "enable
the USDA to operate as a strong and solid national
Continuing, he elaborated on the work being
carried out by the SLORC and the achievements
being recorded for the country on the economic
front and in other areas. He called on the USDA to
participate in development endeavours and said
that the SLORC is in fact carrying out the
objectives of the USDA. He explained the need for
the prevalence of law and order in working for the
emergence of the Union as a modern and developed
nation. He said "it would be necessary to take
note of the fact that some resentful internal and
external elements, who ignore the prevailing
peace, prosperity and development in our Union of
Myanmar [Burma], are using various means to be
obstructive. These resentful external elements, in
collusion with their minions in the country, are
threatening national sovereignty and territorial
integrity and are making fabricated reports
through various means in order to diminish the
country's international prestige and make our
country an outcast in the international community.
Furthermore, he said, minions inside the country
are being encouraged to create instability in the
country whenever there is an opportunity. We must
constantly have political and revolutionary
awareness to prevent the threat to our national

                 PAGE   34             The British
Broadcasting Corporation, September 19,
1994.....from these internal and external
Reviewing the organizational work of the USDA, he
said there are now 16 USDA organizations at state
and divisional level, 55 at district levels, 316
at township levels, and 12,161 at village level
with a total membership of 833,022. He noted
further that a total of 1,177 members have
completed USDA executive management courses.
He noted the role of the USDA members in national
and social affairs and called on them to strive to
become exemplary members in serving society. He
then underlined the similarity of aims and
objectives of the USDA and the SLORC in working
for peace and development in the country. He urged
the members to implement the five objectives of
the association and study local and international
affairs. He concluded his speech by calling on the
USDA members to strive for truth in their deeds
and abide by the USDA motto: "Organize to uphold
strong spirit and discipline" .
The report next carried a seven-minute recorded
speech by U Win Sein, member of the USDA Central
Executive Committee [CEC] Report and minister of
rail transport, who presented the CEC report. The
report viewed the present situation as a time of
endeavour for building a peaceful and modern
nation and noted the role of the SLORC for
ensuring law and order and economic development.
The report pointed the need to safeguard the
nation at the time when "neocolonialists are
holding a negative view towards Myanmar and
insulting the sovereignty of Myanmar" . The report
also reviewed the organizational work of the
September 18, 1994 

                 PAGE   35                  74TH

             Copyright 1994 The Straits Times
Press Limited                             The
Straits Times (Singapore)

                            September 19,
1994.....SECTION: Comment/Analysis; Pg.
26.....LENGTH: 1974 words.....HEADLINE: Changes in
Myanmar's policies spell new openings for
investors.....BYLINE: Lee Kim Chew.....BODY:    
MYANMAR, breaking free from the shackles of
socialist dogmas, is riding on the crest of a
mini-building boom as the economy gets initiated
in the ways of capitalism.
The construction of 17 new hotels in Yangon and a
bigger airport in Mandalay are proceeding apace in
anticipation of the 500,000 tourists expected
during Visit Myanmar Year in 1996.
In the works are another new airport near Yangon,
multi-million-dollar joint ventures for a power
plant, a gas pipeline to Thailand, new roads and
rail tracks to improve the country's
Small businesses are also enjoying a good spell as
shops and restaurants cater to the increasing
number of visitors.
Its new flag-carrier, Myanmar Airways
International, is leasing a second Boeing-737
aircraft from Malaysia Airlines before the end of
the year and expanding its regional network to
include Kuala Lumpur, Kunming and Mandalay.  
Room occupancy in Yangon averages about 60 per
cent, according to some hoteliers, who expect
business to get better as the tourism
infrastructure improves.
Myanmar received about 70,000 visitors last year.
Singapore, advising the Yangon authorities to
invest more heavily in advertising and the service
industry, has submitted various proposals to put
Myanmar on the tourist map.
But some kinks have to be ironed out first.    For
example, the high charges for hotel rooms, airline
tickets and tours make Myanmar an expensive
A packaged tour could cost several hundred dollars
and this makes Myanmar uncompetitive compared to
the Asean countries, according to an airline
The gross disparity between the official exchange
rate for its currency, the kyat, (US$ 1 (S$ 1.49)
for 6 kyats) and the black market rate (US$ 1 for
100 kyats) creates problems for businesses and

                 PAGE   37                The
Straits Times (Singapore), September 19, 1994
But these are early days yet as the military
regime takes the first steps to revamp an economy
devastated by state intervention and the
closed-door policies of the Ne Win era.
 Opportunities for investors
The changes in Myanmar's policies spell new
opportunities for Singapore investors, just as
they give the country a chance to break out of the
poverty trap.
The Keppel Group is leading a new consortium,
Singapore-Myanmar International Leisure Enterprise
(Smile), to invest in the service industry and
tourism-related projects.
Smile, which includes Singapore Airlines, Straits
Steamship Land, NatSteel, Intraco, Singapore Bus
Service and Ken Air, is getting into Myanmar in a
long-term exercise to position itself for the
growth in tourism.
Another Singapore consortium, Sinmardev, will
break new ground when it builds an industrial park
and commercial centre on the outskirts of Yangon.
Singapore's quest to expand its economic space
will get a big boost literally when Sinmardev
develops the Thanlyin-Kyauktan region, about 140
sq km or one-fifth of Singapore, into an economic
dynamo to power Myanmar into the next century.
Sinmardev, which ties up RSP Architects, Planners
and Engineers with PD International, a specialist
contractor, has drawn up a $ 4-billion concept
plan to build five new satellite towns that will
house a population of one million over the next
two decades.
Architect Liu Thai Ker, the former chief planner
of Singapore and head of the Urban Redevelopment
Authority and Housing Board, described the
Thanlyin-Kyauktan region as "a planner's dream"
because of its virgin territory, gentle terrain
and good location.    In a briefing for Myanmar's
Cabinet ministers last month, he said the master
plan would be driven by industrial development.
Myanmar's National Planning and Economic
Development Minister, Brigadier-General David
Abel, said he was confident that the project would
take off, given his government's support for it.
If all goes well, the sparsely populated region
could be to Yangon what Jurong was to Singapore in
the 1960s during the early days of its
More than 100 foreign companies have already
invested over US$ 1.2 billion in the country since
the junta began liberalising the economy in 1988.
Singapore, with investments of about US$ 500
million in Myanmar, is thus not without

                 PAGE   38                The
Straits Times (Singapore), September 19, 1994
On Sept 9, Yangon and Bangkok signed a memorandum
of understanding with the subsidiaries of Total of
France and Unocal Corp of the United States to
pipe gas from the Gulf of Martaban to Thailand.
 Myanmar's plus factors
At this juncture, Myanmar has several plus factors
going for it. The country has vast agricultural,
hardwood and mineral resources, a high literacy
rate (78 per cent) and a cheap workforce (minimum
daily wage is 20 kyats -about 27 cents).
As part of its reforms, the junta has granted
logging and fishing rights to foreigners, started
joint ventures, raised civil service wages and
rationalised the charges for petrol, water and
It has also embarked on numerous projects to
develop the rural areas with new roads, bridges,
irrigation dams, schools and hospitals.
There is plenty of scope for the enterprising
businessmen because much remains to be done to
modernise the moribund economy.
 Serious problems
However, there are serious minus factors, apart
from the political uncertainty. Mismanagement,
more than anything else, had accounted for the
poverty in Myanmar. Instead of spreading wealth,
the Ne Win regime spread misery in its mindless
pursuit of socialistic justice and equality.
With a per capita income of US$ 190, it remains
one of the world's poorest countries.
According to Asian Development Bank estimates,
Myanmar's GDP grew by only 1.3 per cent in fiscal
1991-92, well below the government's target of 5.8
per cent.
Except for construction activities, no real growth
in domestic production has been recorded since
1988. Manufacturing has fallen while agricultural
production stagnated for want of proper management
and adequate facilities.
An underground economy flourishes with the growing
trade between Myanmar and China. But some
observers have expressed fears that cheap Chinese
goods flooding the market are destroying Myanmar's
manufacturing industries, which are either too
ill-equipped or inefficient to face competition.
With little foreign reserves, an estimated
inflation rate of 60 per cent or more, and a
foreign debt of US$ 5 billion to US$ 6 billion,
the cash-strapped regime does not have many
It will have to continue to liberalise the rules,
provide incentives for investors and seek new ways
to finance development, apart from relying on
China, its closest ally.

                 PAGE   39                The
Straits Times (Singapore), September 19, 1994
One of the main stumbling blocks for Myanmar is
the United States, which demands democratic
reforms and an improvement in human rights if the
widely ostracised regime is to receive foreign
American support is crucial for Myanmar to get the
massive loans it needs from the World Bank,
International Monetary Fund and Japan.
While there are opportunities aplenty, the regime
faces daunting problems on many fronts to improve
the lives of Myanmar's 43 million people.
Alluding to government corruption, red tape and
bureaucratic inertia, a researcher in Yangon said:
"Things are easy to start, but hard to finish in
But Brig-Gen Abel, who has been appointed pointman
to coordinate Singapore-Myanmar economic projects,
is upbeat about the prospects.
Reflecting the sentiments of a regime which is
hungry for foreign capital, he said: "There might
be some hiccups, but every problem has its
solution. On our side, we will try to speed things
Beyond the reassurance, there is a need for the
leadership to get rid of the attitudes and
mindsets of the past. Myanmar has lost a
generation of growth through wrong policies, bad
management and misconceived ideas.
In transforming the failed socialist experiment
into a market economy, the regime cannot afford to
make the same mistakes again.
 The writer is the Chief Regional Correspondent of
VISIT MYANMAR YEAR 1996 -Improving infrastructure:
A labourer operates a steam roller in an airport
road-widening project near an ancient pagoda at
Pagan, a tourist destination. The government is
promoting tourism and is expecting 500,000
visitors that year......
          Copyright 1994 The British Broadcasting
Corporation                            BBC Summary
of World Broadcasts

                       September 17, 1994,
Saturday.....SECTION: Part 3 Asia - Pacific;
CHINA; foreign relations; FE/2103/G ; .....LENGTH:
352 words.....HEADLINE: burma; Yunnan and Burma
strike deals on transport links, economic joint
ventures.....SOURCE: Zhongguo Xinwen She news
agency, Beijing, in English 1101 gmt 14 Sep
94.....BODY:    Text of report
Kunming, 14th September: Preparatory work
undertaken by Yunnan Province and Burma [as
received] is soon to start on two highways between
the two places. It is expected that construction
of the highways will begin next March and be
completed within two years. It was part of a
proposal reached yesterday by the Governor Mr He
Zhiqiang and a Burmese minister on economic
development who is member of a visiting delegation
from Burma.  
During the meeting the two sides also reached
consensus on joint ventures in Burma including
establishment of a timber processing plant, jade
processing, production of electrical appliances
and electrical machinery as well as construction
of a power station and a bridge. According to a
proposal put forward by the Burmese side, Yunnan
will soon send experts to carry out on-the-spot
inspection in Burma. Yunnan will also dispatch an
expert team to Burma on a permanent basis in order
to offer technological and maintenance service for
the new power station while at the same time
training technicians for Burma. The two sides
struck consensus on other sectors as well
including strengthening cooperation in tourism and
in countering drug trafficking and further
exploiting regular trade, border trade and
re-export trade.
The Burmese minister was convinced that proposals
on establishment of a demonstrative zone for
economic cooperation in Burma, joint exploitation
of cash crops, construction of a wharf and
highways and development of shipping business in
the Irrawaddy River would soon come true.
The Burmese delegation headed by the secretary-1
of the State Law and Order Restoration of Law and
Order Restoration Council [Khin Nyunt] arrived
here [Kunming] from Beijing three days ago to pay
a visit to the province. During the stay, the
delegation also visited ethnic villages in
Xishuangbanna prefecture, the Kunming Iron and
Steel Co, the Kunming Electrical Machinery Plant
and the Yunnan Nationality College. The secretary
of the Yunnan party committee met the delegation
and held a banquet last evening for the visiting

        Copyright 1994 Federal Information Systems
Federal News Service

Michael Beer