Cruising the Rough Seas Towards a Bright Future in Myanmar’s Financial Seascape

EARLY RELEASE OF SPEECH TRANSCRIPT ON 15th FEBRUARY 2017, 12.15PM, FOR AUDIENCE’S PRE-READING & DISCUSSION

“Cruising the Rough Seas Towards a Bright Future in Myanmar’s Financial Seascape” By Amos Rao, General Manager of Shenton Institute of Applied Finance, at ‘Shenton Institute of Applied Finance’s CISI Special Preview’ on 15TH February 2017, 6.00 PM held at S-9, U Chit Maung Road, Yangon, Myanmar

Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen,
Preamble
1) A very good evening to each of you! Thank you for making time to attend SIAF’s CISI Special Preview. Each time I take the stage to talk about the future of any particular industry sector in Myanmar, I will feel highly positive. Having said that, I have to caution the audience that the future is not all plain sailing. Rough seas, under currents and a voyage against the waves must be expected.
2) Let me share some news, and you will understand the reasons behind my cautious optimism. Most Myanmar people are still in poor condition while Myanmar’s economy is improving. Figures released by the World Bank show Myanmar’s real GDP growth rate was projected to be 7.8% for 2016-2017. Despite an easing of a projected 1.5% from 2015-2016, Myanmar’s inflation rate is projected to average 8.5% over the course of 2016-2017. [1]
3) In other words, it will never be easy to solve the inflation pressures in Myanmar. It will certainly remain. However I believe that the Myanmar government will try set prudent policies so that inflationary pressures would not rise too high. Similar to GDP growth rate projections, it is not be easy to set inflation target policies. But if we ignore it, and inflation rate becomes higher than GDP growth rate, citizens with low income would face economic hardships.
Cruising the Rough Seas
4) Many of you should know about the “Mr. Bar B Q” restaurant along 167 Street in Tamwe Township, Yangon. I have my dinner at “Mr. Bar B Q” rather regularly and always enjoy 2 or 3 chilled mugs of Myanmar draft beer there. Each time, I make my payment, I will notice that my dining receipt will have many tax stamps, which are meant to indicate that I have paid tax for what I have consumed. On the other hand, ordinary food stall, small restaurants and tea shops do not use tax stamps. For instance, a cup of tea from “Morning Star Cafe” at S-6 U Chit Maung Road cost 500ks. If a 5% tax is collected, it will cost 525ks. I wonder how feasible is it for Morning Star Cafe to collect 25ks? The reason is obvious, because the lowest denomination note we see these days is 50ks.
5) U Khin San Hlaing, Chairman of Parliament’s Banks & Financial Committee declared in October last year that, “This government has already proclaimed that there would be no corruption and tax revenues would be used for public interest. I hope the public would also follow rules and regulations.” [2]. This is very well said and U Khin San Hlaing has spelt out clearly the strategic intentions of the government. Then again, implementation of intentions at the micro-level is definitely not plain sailing.
6) On the other hand, last July U Kyaw Win, Minister for Planning & Finance said that tax revenues from the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism are forecast to increase by 762ks million and 225ks million respectively. Further, a 5% commercial tax on mobile phones collected by the Internal Revenue Department is expected to generate 7.5ks billion. [3] Not unexpectedly, comparing to cups of tea, a 5% tax on mobile phones should be comparatively easier to implement and the taxes raised will benefit the public.
Bright Future in Myanmar Financial Seascape
7) Last August, another step in the effort to better connect Myanmar to the global financial system, AYA Bank became the first Myanmar lender to offer bank cards with a stamp from global payment network provider JCB. This is a move that will connect Myanmar’s card system with those in other country. [4] In other words, Myanmar Financial Seascape globalization, normalization and integration come into play.
8) Last month on 20th January, the First Private Bank (FPB) became the 4th firm to be listed in Yangon Stock Exchange. From a financial seascape point of view, this is a very healthy development. The reason is because, FPB which claims the oldest banking license in Myanmar, now has had to adopt a new level of disclosure, laying out the bank’s financial results for the last few years, the risks it faces and its plans for the future. [5] Such a development is actually good for Myanmar Financial seascape. New level of disclosure mean enhanced transparency vis-a-vis new rules on capital requirement, reserve requirement, amongst others. Hence contributing its part towards Myanmar’s banking & finance industry, leveling it up to international standards.
9) More recently I read in Myanmar Times that Myanmar Agro Exchange (MAE) is planning to have over half of its firm in public hands. MAE is in the wholesale food market, supply chain business, the developer and would-be managing agent of the Danyingon Wholesale Market in Yangon. If all goes well, MAE is expected to attain a potential capital raise of 5.25ks billion and will become the 5th publicly listed company in Myanmar. [6]
SIAF is here to help
10) All the above spell possibilities for each of you, to become an aspiring financial services professional. As such, signing up a qualification programme with Shenton Institute of Applied Finance (SIAF) could be an important decision in your life, in your knowledge acquisition journey, especially for those who need some forms of structured learning to help you get there faster. SIAF deploys passionate practitioners an to help professionals understand and “get there” faster.
11)Alongside our Partner, UK’s CISI, (Chartered Institute For Securities & Investments), a widely respected professional body for the securities and investments industry in the UK and globally. CISI’s offerings include wealth, retail, compliance, risk, operations, capital markets and corporate finance qualifications. These are not mere paper qualifications, but more importantly, these are qualifications provide practitioners with practical knowledge which can be immediately transferred to business activities and client-facing advisory functions and can support you to progress in your personal wealth management and career.
To Conclude
12) As we talk about “Cruising the Rough Seas Towards a Bright Future in Myanmar Financial Seascape”. Are you ready to be part of this voyage, as a citizen of Myanmar, contributing towards Myanmar’s financial seascape human capital development? Let us welcome my colleague, Mr. Myo Htut Kyaw who will explain to you (in Burmese) how to get there with a CISI qualification.
13) Thank you.

References:
[1] The World Bank (31 May 2016): Myanmar’s Growth Eases Slightly But Remains Robust in 2015 – 2016 [http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2016/05/31/myanmar-growth-eases-slightly-but-remains-robust-in-2015-2016] Accessed 15/02/2017
[2] Htoo Thant, Myanmar Times (11 October 2016): Confusion still reigns in Taxation [http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/special-features/228-banking-finance-2016/23030-confusion-still-reigns-in-taxation.html] Accessed 15/02/2017
[3] Htoo Thant & Htin Lynn Aung, Myanmar Times (27th July 2016): Few Alterations to 2016 Budget in Amended Draft [http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/nay-pyi-taw/21584-few-alterations-to-2016-budget-in-amended-draft.html] Accessed 15/02/2017
[4] Htin Lynn Aung, Myanmar Times (17th August 2016): Myanmar Joins Global Payment Network [http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/business/22002-myanmar-joins-global-payment-network.html] Accessed 15/02/ 2017
[5] Staff writer, Myanmar Times (3rd January 2016): First Private Bank Cleared for listing [http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/business/24388-first-private-bank-cleared-for-listing.html] Accessed 15/02/2017
[6] Htin Lynn Aung, Myanmar Times (1st February 2017): Danyingone Market Developer Launched Share Sale [http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/business/24779-danyingone-market-developer-launches-share-sale.html] Accessed 15/02/2017

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