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Myanmar must create viable, sustainable economy to better attract investors: President Tony Tan

Myanmar must create a viable, sustainable economy to better attract foreign investors by strengthening fundamental structures and fostering a pro-investment environment, says President Tony Tan Keng Yam. 

YANGON, MYANMAR - President Tony Tan Keng Yam said Myanmar must create a viable, sustainable economy to better attract foreign investors.

To do this, it must strengthen fundamental structures and foster a pro-investment environment, based on the rule of law.

It's also critical for Myanmar to continue to liberalise the economy.

President Tan was speaking to Singapore media on Friday at the end of his five-day state visit to Myanmar.

He added that the country still needs to address challenges like the lack of infrastructure, skilled manpower and reliable electricity sources.

Myanmar also needs to strengthen its bureaucracy and introduce new legislation, to instil confidence for foreign investors.

All these, President Tan notes, will require time.

"The government in Myanmar, under President Thein Sein, is cognizant of all these challenges. There are no easy paths towards this because all of these have to be done altogether within a very short time, but the government is seized with the issue, they are not dodging them.

“It may take a bit of time to resolve some of these issues but the important thing is they are on track towards resolving them and I believe the process of reform will continue.

“2015 is going to be a challenge but I think they are all focused on this with regard to their respective aspirations and I think it will be transited successfully," he said.

Developing human resource is one area which Myanmar must address.

President Tan said upgrading the skills of workers should translate into employment for the young.

And, Singapore is helping with the setting up of a Vocational Training Institute.

Singapore can also help Myanmar by lending expertise in building ports, airports and logistics parks.

President Tan said: "At the end of the day, after all the reforms have been done, what is important is how will the people of Myanmar benefit and that's a long-term aim.

“While we concentrate on the long-term aim, we must also make sure there are immediate benefits.  Ultimately of course, the most important thing at the present time is to foster an economy which can create jobs because once you create a sustainable economy, foreign investors come in, jobs are created, it creates a new life for the people."

In addition, President Tan sees prospects for Singapore's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in this emerging economy.

He said there are niches in Myanmar such as in sectors like logistics, services and specialised telecommunications.

Singapore SMEs can make their mark in these areas and establish a foothold here.

As the Myanmar economy develops, it will translate into growth for these enterprises as well.

But President Tan said businesses need to have resilience and exercise patience in an economy which has its own risks.