After hibernating from the global investment world, decades later… Myanmar is ready to open its gates. Chairman of Singapore-listed conglomerate Yoma Strategic, Serge Pun, shares why he believes now is the time to strike. The company specializes in real estate, financial services and agriculture in Pun’s native land (Myanmar). Pun, by the way, is estimated at a $500-million net worth.
Which Are the “A-List” Sectors?
Serge Pun says: “I think there are more than one sector that would qualify as the best growth sector. The low-hanging fruit ones are actually the service sector, I would say – tourism sector, for instance. That’s pretty low in terms of threshold to entry. But there are many other sectors: infrastructure, for instance, transportation. These are all, I think, high growth sectors. But of course as an agricultural country, I think agriculture probably has the largest potential.
“The challenges are many and probably not unique for this country, I think. We have a fairly long-awaited goal to develop our financial sector, which always is the most important sector to support the growth of the economy. We have another issue about capacity, which also is a very important factor because growth actually needs to be fueled by people to execute it. And the execution is all about human capital.”
Mapping Out the Road to Economic Success
Serge Pun says: “Our government in my opinion is doing a lot, already. In many areas I think they are probably even going a little too fast. But having said that, nothing is enough. So, they could hasten the opening up of the financial sector, they could hasten education.
“Overall, it’s the attitude, which I think our government has amply displayed. Where I find that they could do better is not only having the desire to reach their economic goals, but also the understanding – what it takes to reach their goal, and facilitate what it takes. I will give you an example. We have announced the desire to have a stock exchange by the end of next year. But I don’t think that we have enough understanding and recognition of what things are needed for a stock exchange to be successfully launched. There is simply not enough attention paid to all the little steps, and all the other facets to reach that goal. So, in some ways if I have to pick a failing it is not the desire. The desire is there. It is the understanding of what you need to get to that.”
The Four Walls of Myanmar
Serge Pun says: “For the moment I don’t think we have any plan to develop anything outside of Myanmar. We are very focused on Myanmar, we think this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we intend to fully capitalize on the major reforms that have been going on. Fully capitalize on the good prospects of the economy. So I don’t think we would have the capacity to look beyond Myanmar for the time being.”
Serge Pun says: “I think the smart ones are already here and they’re already starting to build up their base here. I commend them because it shows a degree of vision. They are absolutely correct to see the potential of this country. We have so much potential and we have so much need. So for these companies that have already been here, established themselves, I think they’re very wise and I would definitely encourage more to come.”
Anticipation is rising for “The New Myanmar.” Vision, coupled with know-how and determination, will definitely take Myanmar’s economy to new heights. By the look of things, the companies already set into place will serve as the building blocks to what could be massive growth.