The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) approved 48 projects at its meeting on March 25.
The MIC’s decisions have been criticised as some of the approved projects belong to companies related to two of former President Thein Sein’s economic advisors—Khin Maung Aye and Ko Ko Gyi. Furthermore, some companies had up to five projects approved that day, just five days before the end of the Thein Sein administration.
Among the 48 projects, 27 are local investments, 16 are foreign investments, and five are joint ventures.
A group of companies related to Khin Maung Aye, advisor to the former president and chairman of the Cooperative Bank, had five projects approved by the MIC. These include the construction of a 440-acre light industrial park in the Yangon by New City Development Public Company; industrial parks on 1,311 acres and 236 acres in Bago by the Kaytumadi Development Public Company; the development of 2,456 acres of land by the Hantharwady Development Public Company; and the construction of a 20-acre wharf in Yangon by the Kaung Myanmar Aung Shipping Company.
The MIC also approved a project of the New Downtown Company, which is connected to former presidential advisor Ko Ko Gyi, which entails the construction of a commercial building at a central location in Yangon. The former advisor is also related to companies that have already received permissions to build overpass bridges and housing projects in the city.
Other well-known companies with connections to previous governments also received MIC approval for their projects. Shwe Taung Cement, a subsidiary of the Shwe Taung Group, was approved for a cement manufacturing and distribution project; June Cement Industry was approved for a cement manufacturing and distribution project in Mon State; KT Development was approved for a commercial building project on 11.753 acres of military-owned land; K Future Company was approved for hotel project on 700 acres in Thaung; and the New Strand Development Company was approved for a commercial building project within a military-owned port in Ahlon.
The MIC usually approves a maximum of 10 projects in its meetings, and sometimes only approves one project.
MIC approval brings many perks, including tax exemptions and reductions, as well as legitimacy and credibility, to companies doing business in Myanmar.