Myanmar names new finance minister

YANGON • The President of Myanmar has nominated 80-year-old Soe Win, a well-known financial professional, as the next finance minister after the previous one resigned, amid reports that he was being investigated over graft accusations.

The move yesterday, expected to be confirmed by Parliament this week, will probably reassure potential investors worried about the slow pace of financial reform and a lack of focus on the economy by the administration of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, analysts say.

Mr Soe Win, the managing partner of Deloitte & Touche in Myanmar, previously worked at Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank before launching a second career as a consultant on tax and investment for international corporations.

Parliament posted his biography on its official Facebook page, along with a brief post saying: "Myanmar President has sent biography of the nominated person, Soe Win, for the position of the Union Minister of Finance and Planning."

Government spokesman Zaw Htay and permanent secretaries at the Ministry of Finance and Planning were not immediately available for comment.

The presidential office has not explained why outgoing minister Kyaw Win resigned from the finance post last week.

Mr Kyaw Win and the government have also not commented on media reports that he was under investigation by Myanmar's Anti-Corruption Commission.

Mr Soe Win joined a Myanmar state-owned bank in the early 1960s before a stint as a trainee at National Westminster Bank and the Bank of England in mid-1970s, according to a biography on the website of the Renaissance Institute.

He is a board member of Renaissance, a think-tank that advises the government on economic policy. Myanmar Vigour, a business advisory agency he founded in 2003, became a member firm of Deloitte in 2015, according to the biography.

Myanmar is mired in poverty and plagued by corruption after nearly five decades of army rule.

Economic growth, while still relatively strong, has slowed along with foreign direct investment since Ms Suu Kyi came to power in 2016.

Apart from criticism over sluggish economic reforms, she has also faced international condemnation for a military operation that has sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2018, with the headline 'Myanmar names new finance minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe