Interest in Mandalay Real Estate Spikes Early in 2019

Scion Industrial Engineering

The Mandalay real estate market became active in early 2019, with more people wanting to rent properties, according to real estate agents in Mandalay.

“Since the end of Vassa — a three-month annual retreat for Buddhist — there are more people who want to rent properties, especially people from the country side renting both condominiums and apartments,’’ said U Lun Maung, a real estate agent in Mandalay.

In 2018, monthly rental prices for apartments ranged from K100,000 to K150,000, but have gone up to between K150,000 and 250,000 depending on location and size of the apartments in more popular ares.

“Monthly renting fee for a villa [or, a large house, ED.] were K500,000-800,000. But now it reaches K1 million to 2 million depending on the location,” said U Yang Aung, an executive of Mandalay Regional Real Estate Agents Development Association.

Depending on the property’s location and size, the monthly rental fees for a villa ranges from K1.5 million to K3 million, while average apartments rental fees ranges K75,000 to K150,000.


NYDC Challenge Takes First Step; Invites EOI for Six Projects

Scion Industrial Engineering

New Yangon City Development Company Ltd. (NYDC) invites submission of Expression of Interest (EOI) for six infrastructure projects in the first phase of New Yangon City project.

The projects are Power Supply and Distribution, Public Transport System, Cyber Connectivity Infrastructure, Municipal Waste Disposal, Natural Gas Supply and Distribution, and Convention Center.

“Interested companies can submit EOI along with their technologies used in previous projects, financial statements, and background information. NYDC will choose the best qualified ones for negotiation,” U Thein Wai, CEO of NYDC, said in the company’s newsletter.

The invitation of EOI submission is the first part of the process called NYDC Challenge. This tender process includes four steps:

1.Selection of a qualified company who will undertake preliminary works and feasibility studies to prepare Pre-Project Documents (PPD).

2.NYDC will then negotiate with that company on the construction of the project.

3.The contents of the agreement will then be publicized to allow any qualified third-parties to challenge the agreement with better terms on the basis that it strictly adheres to the terms and conditions of the agreement.

4.If a third party challenges the agreement from Step 2 with a lower bid, a counter bid will be allowed by the original company selected in Step 1 and 2 to match the new offer or forego.

Interested companies must submit the EOI applications by February 28, 2019, directly to NYDC by hard copy or electronic copy at the addresses listed below.

The first phase of the project located on the western bank of the Yangon River on 20,000 acres of land is estimated to cost over $1.5 billion, and a Singaporean company named AECOM is working on Master Plan of the project.

When the project is finished, it is expected to accommodate over three million residents, and create two million jobs. Yangon’s population is projected to reach 10 million over the next decade, and according to the CEO of NYDC, “It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that Myanmar people have opportunities to improve their living standards and escape from poverty through employment.”


Myanmar to Build Charging Stations Across the Country

scion Industrial Engineering

U Khin Maung Cho, Union Minister of the Ministry of Industry, said at the Pyithu Hluttaw session that it is planning to build 49 charging stations for electronic vehicles on the Yangon-Mandalay-Naypyidaw express way.

Out of 49 charging stations, four stations will be built along Yangon-Mandalay Express way, 36 stations in Yangon and five in Naypyidaw.

“Charging Stations will be not only for e-buses but also for other EVs. Now, Green Power Myanmar Co., Ltd will send us five e-buses to test. For them, we are planning to build charging stations,’’ the union minister said.

The e-bus sent by Green Power Myanmar Co., Ltd will be used at the Naypyidaw International Airport, train station, bus station and the market.

The e-bus, which will be jointly produced by Green Power Myanmar Co., ltd and Ministry of Industry at Thagara Industrial Zone in Yetarshae Township, Bago Region, can run for over 150 miles on a single charge and drive on flooded roads as it has a waterproofing feature.

Moreover, they will reduce carbon emission compared to ordinary buses run on fossil fuel, while also reducing the cost by 30-50 percent.

The company will use European technology and import charging machines and accessories from Germany and Hungary and batteries from China.

“We need to produce and use electric cars in order to reduce carbon emission. Therefore, we will produce EVs in collaboration with Green Power Myanmar using Hungarian technology,” U Khin Maung Cho said.

Cspel Holding Limited, a Hungarian auto maker which will work with Green Power Myanmar, has deals to export 7,000 electronic vehicles to Sri Lanka, India and Singapore and to produce 3,000 e-buses for local bus lines.


Seven New Auto Factories to Produce Vehicles

Scion Industrial ENgineering

U Khin Maung Cho, Union Minister of the Ministry of Industry, said that seven more SKD auto factories have been approved to build Vehicles in the country, he announced this at the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw meeting held on February 13.

“They are producing automobiles using the SKD method, this is a marketable production method with the lowest operating cost. Now, there are nine companies producing automobiles and seven more companies planning to make automobiles,’’ he added.

The ministry will check if the imported auto parts used for making the automobiles meet the standard of its place of origin, and they will check requirements for importation if they are brand new.

It issues the CoA (Certificate of Authenticity) only after checking and receiving the Inspection Certificate (IC) of the original producers and the test drive.

The minister stressed that his ministry focuses on safety while allowing SKD auto production in order to promote industrial and social economic development. Therefore, they have formed an inspection team to scrutinize the safety of the vehicles produced under the SKD method, they have plans to shift to CKD in the future.

The nine companies making vehicles are from Japan, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.


Yoma Strategic Acquires Majority Stake in YKKO

Scion Industrial Engineering

Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. (“Yoma Strategic”) has acquired a 65% stake in Yankin Kyay Oh Group of Companies Limited (“YKKO”). YKKO was founded in Yangon in 1988 and has since grown to become one of Myanmar’s largest restaurant chains with 37 outlets in Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Bago and Mawlamyine.

The total cash consideration to be paid is approximately MMK19.4 billion (US$12.6 million) which was arrived at on a willing-buyer willing-seller basis, taking into consideration, amongst others, the current and projected earnings of YKKO. The net tangible asset value of YKKO was approximately MMK6.22 billion (US$4.09 million) as of 30 September 2018. The consideration will be funded by internal resources and recent financing activities and upon completion, YKKO will become a 65%-owned subsidiary of Yoma Strategic.

YKKO is famous for its “Kyay-Oh”, a popular vermicelli and flat rice noodle-based dish in Myanmar. While Kyay-Oh contributes the majority of YKKO’s sales, the restaurant also offers a diversified menu ranging from Myanmar-style barbeque to Chinese and Thai dishes.

Mr. Melvyn Pun, CEO, Yoma Strategic stated, “YKKO is a much-loved brand in Myanmar and its Kyay-Oh has become a household name over the last 30 years. From humble beginnings as a family run restaurant to one of the country’s most popular local F&B brands, YKKO is a true Myanmar success story and we are honored to help further its success going forward.”

Daw Yu Yu Lwin, Chairwoman, YKKO stated, “The company will continue to build on YKKO’s core values of quality, cleanliness and service and our vision remains the same – to establish YKKO as a Myanmar brand that people will recognise, love and feel proud of. We are glad to partner with Yoma Strategic who share these same values and vision. My family started this business more than 30 years ago with a small humble shop in Yangon’s Yankin township. Thanks to our amazing team who have been with us throughout the journey, YKKO now has a presence of over 30 stores across five cities. We look forward to further expanding our footprint across the country in partnership with Yoma Strategic.”


Myanmar Trade Center to Open in Hainan in April

Scion Industrial Engineering

The Myanmar Trade Promotion Organization under the Ministry of Commerce will open a Myanmar Trade Center in Hainan, China in April this year in order to boost Myanmar’s value-added products export to China.

The center is being jointly implemented by the Myanmar Trade Promotion Organization and Globe Shenzhen Co., Ltd., which will sell samples of the value-added products exported by Myanmar. Globe Shenzhen Co., Ltd. is an e-commerce company approved by the Chinese government.

The center will provide a platform for displaying and selling Myanmar’s value-added products for things like agriculture, foods, jade, handicrafts and souvenirs.

“We will post in on our website for Myanmar’s businessmen. We will also inform organizations and there will be no limitations, but if your products are no good, then it is unlikely they will sell out. Therefore, businessmen need to mind the quality to create market for their products. There will be also no limitations on number of products. They will just need to send us samples,’’ said Dr. Thet Lwin Oo, Economic Counsellor of Myanmar in China.

The center is Globe Shenzhen’s first step in collaboration to promote Myanmar’s value-added products, and it will also work with other countries.

“There will be no charge for exhibiting products at the center. What we need from is the will to exhibit their products. Globe Shenzhen will take responsibility for selling the products through a cross-border E-commerce system. Sellers are not required to have FDA or AQSIQ certificates, but they need to meet the requirements set forth by Myanmar. Under Cross Border E-commerce, you store the products yourself, and sells them by showcasing samples at the center. If the customers like the products, then they will order it through the online shop,” Dr. Thet Lwin Oo said.

“It is a great opportunity to exhibit our products abroad and we are interested in it. Because, it is hard to individually set up a shop there. Having the chance to exhibit our products at the place implemented by the Ministry of Commerce, international customers will know our products,’’ said Daw Lei Lei Oo, a local exporter.


Malaysian Company Plans to Invest In Furniture Factory in Southern Myanmar

Scion Industrial Engineering

Malaysian company is planning to invest in building an acacia mangium furniture factory in Myanmar’s Bago region, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday.

The unidentified Malaysian company projects will buy 3,000 tons of raw material of acacia mangium per year from the Myanmar Acacia Mangium Production Association and a feasibility study is being made to find out if enough raw materials can be supplied from across the country’s plantations, according to the report.

To make finished products with acacia mangium, Myanmar needs to have a supply of 15,000 acres (6,075 hectares) of acacia mangium per year, said U Myo Ko Ko Thein, chairman of the association.

According to him, there are over 30,000 acres of acacia mangium plantations in Myanmar.

Acacia mangium can be used to make flooring, A4-sized paper and other personal goods.

According to official figures, over 1.8 billion U.S. dollars’ investment from 85 foreign enterprises had entered Myanmar’s Bago region as of December 2018.

Manufacturing sector topped the list with 1.4 billion dollars foreign investments, followed by onshore petroleum enterprise and agriculture sector in the region.

Meanwhile, the region also attracted 946 billion kyats (610.3 million U.S. dollars) domestic investment so far.

The new Myanmar Investment Law, introduced on Aug. 1, 2018, allows foreign investors to take up 35 percent in local companies.

Under the new investment law, investment with capital not exceeding 5 million U.S. dollars can be permitted by regional and states authorities of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

Bhutan Should Come Clean on Hydropower Megaplan


The tiny nation of Bhutan might enjoy world renown for its environmental record, but it is overlooking concerns being raised by environmentalists over the country’s plans to construct large hydropower plants to generate 10,000 megawatts of surplus electricity for export to India.

Climate Action Tracker, an independent group, rated Bhutan’s pledged contribution to the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris as “sufficient,” a rating accorded to just five countries. Soon thereafter, the carbon comparator tool of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit praised Bhutan for being an unparalleled carbon sink, absorbing three times more carbon dioxide emissions than it produces.

A nation of about 750,000 people perched between India and China, Bhutan deserves the accolades. It measures national progress in terms of Gross National Happiness, a policy that seeks to balance economic growth and environmental conservation, and not Gross Domestic Product. Bhutan’s constitution mandates that its territory be at least 60 percent covered by forest.

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The world’s only Mahayana Buddhist country, Bhutan also has huge tourism potential, but it restricts the number of tourist arrivals by imposing a mandatory tariff of $200 per person per day, a measure to protect its rich culture.

Meanwhile, Bhutan aspires to become a world leader in the use of electric vehicles and thereby reduce fossil fuel imports by 70 percent, as well as to make its agricultural system 100 percent organic by 2020.

However, 2020 is also the deadline for Bhutan to increase the generation of electricity from its current installed capacity of 1,400 MW to more than 10,000 MW. According to a 2009 protocol to a 2006 Bhutan-India agreement, New Delhi will provide grants and soft loans to Thimphu to produce 10,000 MW by 2020 and import all the surplus electricity.

Bhutan, a landlocked country with rugged mountainous terrain that is heavily dependent on India’s financial assistance, views its hydropower potential as the backbone of its economy. With its four major river systems, Bhutan has hydropower potential of about 30,000 MW, of which 24,000 MW is techno-economically feasible. Hydropower exports and infrastructure construction already constitute about 50 percent of Bhutan’s GDP, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Bhutan claims that all its hydropower plants are clean.

All projects in Bhutan are run-of-river and “good for [the] environment,” Economic Affairs Minister Norbu Wangchuk said. Bhutan’s export of electricity to India will make a “big contribution” towards mitigating global warming, he said, suggesting that India would otherwise have to burn fossil fuels.

“Presently, Bhutan offsets 4.4 million tons of CO2e through exports of hydroelectricity. In addition, Bhutan can offset up to 22.4 million tons of CO2e per year by 2025 in the region through the export of electricity from our clean hydropower projects,” said Bhutan in its pledge to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“Our rivers are in deep valleys, where minimal human settlements are found. Our hydropower projects are subject to stringent environmental standards,” Wangchuk said, claiming that the social and environmental cost of hydropower projects will be low.

The construction of a project involves temporary damage, Wangchuk argued, comparing it with “an eyesore.” He claimed “the nature returns to a status better than the original” after the construction, as the projects look after the sites on a regular basis. He called hydropower “the flagship project that balances ecology and economy.”

Environmentalists disagree.

“Hydropower projects certainly harm the environment … both during and post construction,” Yeshey Dorji, an environmentalist and wildlife photographer in Bhutan, said.

Shripad Dharmadhikari, a graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology and formerly a full-time environment activist, agreed with Dorji. “Calling hydropower ‘clean’ is a misnomer,” he said. “We need to evaluate its entire impact on the ecosystem and communities.”

“Hydropower has huge impacts on the riverine ecology, both upstream and downstream, and on local communities,” added Dharmadhikari, who is a coordinator of India-based non-profit group Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, citing the Punatsangchhu project site in Bhutan as an example.

The site for two Punatsangchhu projects in Bhutan was one of the habitats of the endangered White Bellied Heron. Only about 200 birds remain globally, Dharmadhikari noted in a recent article. “The construction of the Punatsangchhu projects has further destroyed the habitat of the Heron, and pushed it – and its predators – into a much smaller area, endangering it further.”

If there are several hydropower projects in a cascade on a river, they can cause lasting damage to the river ecology and communities, he said, pointing out that excessive releases from the Kurichhu project severely impacted the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, a World Heritage Site, downstream in India in 2004.

And hydropower is not clean, Dharmadhikari added, explaining that several studies have shown that hydropower can emit greenhouse gases, mainly in the form of methane, which is a much more potent GHG than carbon dioxide, from decaying organic matter. It is also important to recognize the impact of climate change and melting glaciers on hydropower projects, and the safety risks created due to events like glacial lake outburst floods, particularly in the Himalayan region, he said.

Even so-called run-of-river projects generate power using dams and tunnels, which divert the flow of the river and impact the biodiversity of the river downstream, Himanshu Thakkar, the coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), said.

International financial institutions now accept hydropower as “clean” as a result of efforts being made by the hydropower lobby, added Thakkar.

The Indian government is also considering categorizing hydropower as renewable energy. In fact, the recent Paris Agreement seems to have accepted all sources of energy that do not require burning or fossil fuels as “clean,” overlooking safety concerns.

Hydropower can be a viable option, but only if certain conditions are met, activists say. And that’s a big “if.”

According to Thakkar, governments and industry players need to take decisions concerning hydropower in a democratic fashion with the involvement of local inhabitants, in terms of discussing compensations for displacement and other impacts. Transparency is equally important so that projects’ compliance with environmental and safety norms remain verifiable, he added.

But norms are generally not followed, Dharmadhikari said, pointing out that only one of the existing projects in Bhutan – the Kurichhu plant in Mongar – has a fish ladder, which allows migratory fish to travel to their breeding grounds. Reports of the ladder in operation are also not encouraging.

Local populations in Bhutan have already raised concerns, as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi admitted in a speech in February 2015 in the Northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. “I know the people of Arunachal Pradesh have certain reservations about some hydel projects. There were similar issues in Bhutan and Nepal, which have as much water resources. We negotiated with them. We are trying to set up power companies there. Through electricity alone, Nepal and Bhutan’s economic condition will improve,” Modi was quoted as saying.

Bhutan’s media has also reported that the planned 540 MW Amochhu Reservoir Hydro Electric Project would displace the oldest indigenous community of Lhop or Doya people.

In Bhutan, “hydropower projects are implemented in complete secrecy and with the greatest of opacity,” Dorji said. “If there is nothing to hide, there is no need for such clandestine conduct. There are no proper EIA (environmental impact assessments) done, there are no environment management plans drawn up, there are no basin studies carried out to determine the carrying capacity of the basins and there are no cumulative impact assessments carried out,” he added. “In fact, people believe that even environmental clearances are not obtained for the projects.”

The parliament of Bhutan, which became a democratic constitutional monarchy in 2008, is yet to approve a right to information bill, and journalists complain they can’t investigate government’s claims about hydropower. While Bhutan is known to be among the least corrupt nations in South Asia, the reason for secrecy, some suspect, could be due to the involvement of India and Indian companies in the hydropower projects.

Officials in Bhutan do not dare upset their counterparts in India, Bhutan’s largest trading partner. About 98 percent of Bhutan’s exports and 90 percent of its imports are with India. New Delhi reportedly insists that EIAs be done by WAPCOS, a consulting company under India’s Ministry of Water Resources, which has been accused of shoddy work and overcharging Bhutan, according to SANDRP.

Bhutan’s opposition leader, Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, agreed that “there should have been better rationalization in terms of numbers (of hydropower projects) so that an acceptable compromise could be reached between economic needs and environmental concerns.” He called hydropower “a necessary evil” for a “resource-strapped country like Bhutan” to attain self-reliance.

However, Bhutan’s hydropower projects do not make much sense even economically, as they lead to heavy debt due to the loans that Thimphu needs to take out for their construction. Moreover, they result in mere quantitative growth without producing substantial number of jobs for Bhutanese people. Furthermore, since the electricity is sold exclusively to India, the resultant economic “self-reliance” wouldn’t mean much in terms of Bhutan’s sense of sovereignty. India’s dominance will remain, if not increase.

It would perhaps be better for Bhutan to continue developing its soft power by remaining a beacon in efforts to check global warming and in responsible business practices, and instead explore diversification as a way to boost its economy. If Thimphu does choose to go ahead with its hydropower plans, it should do so in a transparent manner, or risk its green reputation.


Myanmar textile industry incurs losses following dollar appreciation


The Myanmar textile industry has incurred losses due to dollar appreciation, as reported by Myanmar Textile Entrepreneurs Association.
The month of September saw a significant variation in the value of US dollar. Notably, the dollar value jumped from Ks 1,500 in early September to Ks 1,650 on 20 September.

Yin Yin Moe, Secretary, Myanmar Textile Entrepreneurs Association averred that the dollar appreciation has significantly affected the local apparel industry in Myanmar as they have to import all materials from foreign countries.

She also further added that some of the textile firms have suspended sales due to the losses and will resume only after normalcy is restored.

While remarking on the losses, Moe said that the local market may have incurred losses ranging from 50 to 80 per cent, though it will be difficult to measure the extent of losses accurately.

It is also imperative to note that some garment firms have temporarily suspended their workers owing to losses, while many have stopped recruiting new workers.


Hyundai Motor Myanmar to Hold Grand Opening Ceremony of Shwe Daehan Motors Factory


Hyundai Motor Myanmar, official sole distributor of Hyundai Motor in Myanmar, will hold the Grand Opening of Shwe Daehan Motors a new car parts installation factory of Hyundai Motor Myanmar. The new Accent launching ceremony at Hyundai Showroom on 08th February 2019. Shwe Daehan Motors Factory is located in Thar Du Kan Industrial Zone, Shwe Pyi Tar Township, Yangon Region. They will manufacture Hyundai cars by using the semi-knocked-down kit (SKD) system.

The new model of the Accent is available as a small Sedan and is powered by a 6-speed automatic transmission 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine providing 100 Horse Power, many options are available such as 16-inch alloy rims, rear disc brakes, 6 airbags, Electrochromic Mirror, steering-wheel with audio controls, a console storage bin, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming. Power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, speed sensing automatic door locks and full auto air conditioning are standard on all trims, as is Hyundai’s excellent warranty.

Attractive exterior style, luxury interior with leather seats and multi infotainment system such as Navigation system, Touchscreen, Bluetooth system, wifi and smart technology are also exceptionally equipped. Moreover, car provides not only improved engine power and lower operational cost, but also lower emission and better dynamic performance.

New Accent, manufactured by Shwe Daehan Motors Factory, is given 3 years or 100,000-kilometer warranty. There will be pre-booking event from 28th January to 8th February and will be given a present SK Lubricants ZIC engine oil for pre-booked customers.