The Straits Times – “Myanmar’s telecoms tender shows up tensions”

By Nirmal Ghosh | 1 July 2013

Check out the full article here.

THE issuing of 15-year telecommunications licences last week in the virtually untapped Myanmar market, to Norway’s Telenor Group and Qatar’s Ooredoo, was widely welcomed for the effect that greater mobile phone penetration will have on people’s lives in one of Asia’s poorest nations … 

The good news is that the bidding process was widely lauded for its transparency. Also, Telenor and Ooredoo won their bids as sole operators with no local partners – seen as a major plus as they can avoid working with Myanmar firms that might be considered cronies of the military…

But there have been moves to block the opening up of the sector, as Myanmar’s telecoms legislation is not ready yet. In a surprise move a day before the successful bids were announced, Parliament voted almost unanimously to accept a motion that a provision for 51 per cent local participation be written into the law…

Mr Romain Caillaud, the managing director at the Myanmar office of the Vriens & Partners consultancy, said: “Maybe a positive outcome of the recent row over the telecoms licensing process will (be) greater attention to the role of Parliament in relation to foreign direct investors.”