Myanmar president pledges wave of economic reforms | News | DW | 19.06.2012
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Myanmar president pledges wave of economic reforms

Myanmar's president has pledged to introduce a series of reforms aimed at rapidly improving the country's economic output. At the same time though, Thein Sein said the political reform process would continue.

Myanmar's president on Tuesday announced what he described as a "second wave" of reforms aimed at developing the country's economy.

"The foreign direct investment law will be approved soon in the coming parliament sessions," President Thein Sein said in a nationally televised address. "If there are laws protecting investors, they will come to invest in Myanmar."

The legislation is expected to make 100 percent foreign ownership of companies in Myanmar possible in most economic sectors. However, the president said no future foreign investment would be allowed that would damage the environment. He said projects promoting social development would be favored and that the government was considering the introduction of a minimum wage.

Among the specific targets unveiled by the president is a plan to boost gross domestic product by 7.77 percent annually over the next five years.

Political reforms

Thein Sein, who took office after the military handed over power just over a year ago, has already introduced a series of political reforms, which have led to the European Union, the United States and other Western governments to lift economic sanctions on Myanmar.

He said the new focus on economic development would not be to the detriment of the political reform process.

"On the other hand, we will continue to work on national reconciliation, national peace and stability and the rule of law, and the safety of the public."

Recent violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine state has shown that the government still has a lot of work ahead of it before the country can truly be described as peaceful and stable.

State media reported on Tuesday that a court in that state's Kyaukphyu district sentenced two Muslim men to death for the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman last month. The attack set off several days of unrest. More than 50 people were subsequently killed in violence between ethic Rakhine Buddhists and members of the Muslim Rohingya minority.

pfd/ncy (dpa, Reuters)