An influx of foreign engineers into Myanmar’s booming construction sector has prompted the authorities to crack down on unlicensed expats. Developers are required to register foreign workers with the local council, and suspensions await those that do not abide by the rules.
Both local and foreign developers have had to register their expat employees for several years, according to the Myanmar Engineering Council (MEC), but many are still unaware of the rules.
Local engineers and developers operate under the MEC’s supervision, but there is no organisation charged with supervising the growing number of foreign engineers helping with Myanmar’s building boom.
The MEC is keen to keep track of just how many expat workers are engaged in the construction business and scrutinise their qualifications, however, and will be sending out notifications to developers soon, it said.
“There are laws and by-laws which officially state that foreign professionals must be registered at the council and can work here only if the council allows them,” said U Khin Maung Tint, who is in charge of the MEC’s effort to make sure registration is taking place, on July 4.
The Myanmar Engineering Council Law stipulates a person cannot perform any engineering work without having received a registration certificate from the council.
The law also lays out punishments for developers using unregistered engineers, which include suspending a project until registration is complete.
But despite the law and its penalties, registration has been almost non-existent. As of July 4, the MEC had received only three applications to register foreign engineers, who came from Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States.
The council collects a US$500 annual registration fee for foreign professionals.
“So far, we’ve received only three applications, but we’re conducting inspections at construction sites and if we find unregistered foreign engineers we’re notifying the people in charge,” said U Khin Maung Tint.
Developers flouting the rules will face legal action, he added.
U Tin Hlaing, executive director of Pattko Global Development Construction, said that the inflow of foreign engineers may pose problems for local engineers trying to find work. But the council should allow expats to work after scrutinising their skills and experience, he added.
“We will register [our foreign workers] as soon as we receive notification from the council,” he said.
U Khin Maung Tint said the council has relaxed qualification requirements in order to help create more qualified local engineers, and at the same time brought foreign engineers under the supervision of council law.
The council has issued professional engineer certificates to more than 440 local engineers and senior engineer certificates to more than 580 local engineers since 2014.