Burma to Allow SE Asian Observers
Burma says it will allow observers from Southeast Asian countries to monitor April elections that are viewed as crucial for gauging the nation’s much-heralded reforms. Burma invited the countries that form the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to send five observers and 18 parliamentarians to witness the vote. Allowing outside monitors marks a major step for the long-isolated country. International bids to send observers were rejected in 2010 and 1990, the last two elections.—AP
Naypyidaw Confident of GDP Growth
The New Light of Myanmar reported on Monday that the Burmese government is aiming for a GDP increase of 6.7 percent for the coming fiscal year 2012-13, which will start on April 1. According to the state-run nespaper, the agriculture sector is projected to increase 3 percent, the industrial sector 9 percent and the service sector 8.3 percent.
Govt Aims to Quadruple Health Budget
Burma is quadrupling its health budget this year and focusing on hiring more doctors, securing supplies and renovating hospitals as it tries to modernize after decades of isolation, Health Minister Pe Thet Khin told Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of a global health conference in Singapore. Burma’s 2011 healthcare budget was 9.2 billion kyat (US $11.5 million). “The quality of healthcare in Myanmar was compromised because of the lack of government funding due to sanctions and other factors,” the minister said.
Burma Drafts Foreign Investment Law
Foreigners will not need a local partner to set up businesses in Burma and may be granted a five-year tax holiday from the start of commercial operations, according to a report by Reuters, which quoted a draft law it had obtained. Under the draft investment law, foreign investors can also lease land from the state or from private citizens, but will not be allowed to employ unskilled foreign workers. Burmese citizens must make up at least 25 percent of their skilled workforce after five years, with the percentage rising to at least 50 percent after 10 years, and 75 percent after 15 years.