The Leaderboard: U Soe Thane

Who is he?

His Excellency U Soe Thane is a minister in the President’s Office and head of the Myanmar Investment Commission. In his role in the President’s Office, Soe Thane serves on the so-called super-cabinet that advises President Thein Sein on the most important matters involved in Myanmar’s transition to democracy.

Soe Thane oversees a portfolio of 11 ministries dealing with a vast range of economic issues. He is known for being outspoken, decisive, and a strong believer in the president’s commitment to reforms.

Minister U Soe Thane (center) and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a meeting in Oslo, Norway, in June 2012. Source: Utenriksdept’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Why is he in the news?

Soe Thane was a key player in the drafting of Myanmar’s new Foreign Investment Law, which was passed in early November. Advocating for more investor-friendly provisions in the legislation, Soe Thane helped communicate President Thein Sein’s positions to the media and assured foreign investors of his government’s commitment to making the investment law enticing for foreign companies.

The new law gives the Myanmar Investment Commission, which Soe Thane heads, discretionary powers to decide whether or not to allow foreign investment in 11 sensitive sectors of the economy.

What can we expect from him?

In September, Soe Thane, an English-speaking former minister of industry and former commander of the Myanmar Navy, said his priorities include the restructuring of ministries, campaigning against corruption, and accelerating reforms in the financial sector. As a supporter of an independent central bank, he undoubtedly will play an important role as the government prepares to endorse the Central Bank of Myanmar as a ministerial-level body in coming months. Foreign investors should expect Soe Thane to be more in the spotlight as the Myanmar Investment Commission steps up its activities as more foreign investors apply to invest in Myanmar.

 

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