Myanmar's Chin State unveils strategies designed for speedy growth

YANGON (Myanmar Eleven/ANN) - SMEs and tourism are two priorities for Myanmar's least developed region. 

The local government of Chin State have announced plans to improve transport infrastructure, electricity and telecommunications in the state, as Myanmar's least developed region is in desperate need of investment and tourists.
 
It is believed better infrastructure in the state will support its strategies to develop the area’s tourism sector and promote small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) under this government’s term. 

At a press conference, Salai Isaac Khen, the state’s minister for municipality, electricity and industry, said the state had failed to draw foreign investment due to its poor transport system and limited access to electricity. 

But he said the outlook was bright as the state had received three proposals for hydropower plants and eight proposals for investment in hotels. 

“Among the capitals of 14 states and regions in Myanmar, Hakha is the only one where there is no hotel,” he said, hinting that two hotel licences may be issued in the first stage to match the number of tourists. He assured that the process would be transparent. 

Under the tourism-promotion strategy, a training centre will be established, along with the screening of tourist destinations and potential community-based tourism projects. 

To promote SMEs, the state has vowed to cut red tape, improve SMEs’ access to bank loans, support the role of women, focus more on organic farming and value-added products and boost border trade with India through three new trade points. 

It was believed that greater electricification and better transport would draw investment and a flow of goods, which would attract foreign investment. 

Each strategy covers 13 plans. The implementation and budgeting remains to be discussed with the Union government, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and relevant stakeholders.
The minister said transport infrastructure must be first improved, as it takes hours to travel from town-to-town within the state. 

Only three towns out of 15 in the state have access to the national power grid, while other towns depend on diesel generators. And only 30 per cent of the population has access to electricity and there is no spare capacity for manufacturing activities. But two more towns are scheduled to be connected to the national grid by March 2017. Large-scale hydropower plants may be built on the Manipur and Kalaton rivers and mid-scale plants are likely to be built in Tonzang township. The state has also received a proposal for a wind farm project. 

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