Myanmar business tycoon complains about government’s “neglect of economy”

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Serge Pun, one of the richest individuals not only in Myanmar, but all over Southeast Asia, on July 6 criticised the government of Aung San Suu Kyi of failing to initiate much-needed economic reform and neglecting Myanmar’s economy as a whole.

He noted that the nation’s economy “has not performed well enough” more than one year after its first de-facto civilian leader Suu Kyi swept to power in a historic vote.

“They have definitely neglected on the economic side. They have not realised the importance of the economy,” Pun said at an event held by the Singapore Management University in Yangon.

Looking at the numbers, Myanmar’s economic growth, even though still relatively strong, has slowed since Suu Kyi took power, while foreign direct investment has fallen sharply. The country’s gross domestic product growth fell to 6.3 per cent in 2016, a full percentage point lower than the previous year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The depreciation of Myanmar’s currency against the US dollar has also not stopped, on the contrary, the exchange rates is weak as never before, with 1 US dollar currently trading for around 1,360 kyat, up from around 1,150 kyat when the new government took office on March 30, 2016. Furthermore, the gap between bank rates and the black market rate, which more accurately factors in the standing of the national economy, is becoming continuously broader.

Pun urged authorities to give “more attention” to growth in one of the region’s poorest countries. He added the government needed to build a “more efficient bureaucracy” and a conducive legal framework to facilitate investment, and he also noted that a favourable economic development was “the most effective tool” to end decades of separatist unrest in the country.

The influential 64-year old businessman is chairman of the Serge Pun & Associates Group, a multinational holding company that includes First Myanmar Investment, a major Myanmar investment company, and Yoma Bank, one of Myanmar’s largest commercial lenders, among several companies involved in automobiles, real estate, retail, luxury tourism, agriculture and financial services. Pun’s estimated net worth is around $500 million.

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Serge Pun, one of the richest individuals not only in Myanmar, but all over Southeast Asia, on July 6 criticised the government of Aung San Suu Kyi of failing to initiate much-needed economic reform and neglecting Myanmar's economy as a whole. He noted that the nation's economy "has not performed well enough" more than one year after its first de-facto civilian leader Suu Kyi swept to power in a historic vote. "They have definitely neglected on the economic side. They have not realised the importance of the economy," Pun said at an event held by the Singapore Management University in...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Serge Pun, one of the richest individuals not only in Myanmar, but all over Southeast Asia, on July 6 criticised the government of Aung San Suu Kyi of failing to initiate much-needed economic reform and neglecting Myanmar’s economy as a whole.

He noted that the nation’s economy “has not performed well enough” more than one year after its first de-facto civilian leader Suu Kyi swept to power in a historic vote.

“They have definitely neglected on the economic side. They have not realised the importance of the economy,” Pun said at an event held by the Singapore Management University in Yangon.

Looking at the numbers, Myanmar’s economic growth, even though still relatively strong, has slowed since Suu Kyi took power, while foreign direct investment has fallen sharply. The country’s gross domestic product growth fell to 6.3 per cent in 2016, a full percentage point lower than the previous year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The depreciation of Myanmar’s currency against the US dollar has also not stopped, on the contrary, the exchange rates is weak as never before, with 1 US dollar currently trading for around 1,360 kyat, up from around 1,150 kyat when the new government took office on March 30, 2016. Furthermore, the gap between bank rates and the black market rate, which more accurately factors in the standing of the national economy, is becoming continuously broader.

Pun urged authorities to give “more attention” to growth in one of the region’s poorest countries. He added the government needed to build a “more efficient bureaucracy” and a conducive legal framework to facilitate investment, and he also noted that a favourable economic development was “the most effective tool” to end decades of separatist unrest in the country.

The influential 64-year old businessman is chairman of the Serge Pun & Associates Group, a multinational holding company that includes First Myanmar Investment, a major Myanmar investment company, and Yoma Bank, one of Myanmar’s largest commercial lenders, among several companies involved in automobiles, real estate, retail, luxury tourism, agriculture and financial services. Pun’s estimated net worth is around $500 million.

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