Myanma Posts and Telecommunications will work with the Asian Development Bank to write by-laws to govern the telecoms sector, the Minister for Communications, Posts and Telegraphs said last week.
Minister U Thein Tun made the comments at the start of the ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Senior Officials and Telecommunications Regulators’ Council leaders retreat in Bagan on October 1.
“As we transform our telecoms sector we are encouraging more private sector participation,” he said. “Very soon, we will have more telecom operators competing. As an initial step for the reform process, we have sent out and invitation for consultancy to assist us in preparing, inviting, evaluating and … selecting the tender. The consultancy may also assist us in the business model for the current government operator, MPT.
“We are already at the final stage of selection for the consultant. Any transformation of any sector needs to be harmonised with regulatory sequencing. For this, our new telecommunications law, which has already been reviewed by the Attorney General Office and the President’s Legal Advisory Committee after discussion in the cabinet, will be tabled at the next parliament session,” he said.
“By-laws must be promulgated within 90 days but we can’t wait that long so we will publicise it within two weeks with ADB’s cooperation,” he said.
U Thein Tun said the International Telecommunication Union had warned him that regional experience showed that Myanmar would face difficulties in privatising its telecoms sector if it failed to lay down strong legislation before.
Interest from international companies in Myanmar’s telecoms sector is strong, with upwards of 50 companies vying for the four licences that will reportedly be issued by MPT.
U Kyaw Aung, a 45-year-old businessman who lives in Hlaing township, said MPT had held a monopoly on telecoms services for too long and privatising the sector would lower costs for consumers – particularly for mobile phone SIM cards, which remain hugely expensive compared with neighbouring nations.