ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Be patient, deputy minister advises prospective insurance companies
Myanmar and foreign companies wanting to enter the insurance market will need to be patient, says Deputy Finance Minister Dr Maung Maung Thein.
Cooperation among participants in the market will also be essential for it to develop smoothly, Dr Maung Maung Thein told an industry conference organised by Singapore's Asian Insurance Review at Yangon's Parkroyal Hotel on September 28.
The deputy minister offered two pieces of advice in his address at the two-day conference, which attracted more than 160 participants from 18 countries.
"The first is to be patient; Rome wasn't built in a day," he said.
Dr Maung Maung Thein said many Myanmar companies wanted to enter the insurance sector and sell a range of products but they lacked experience, which could have a negative impact on the market.
He also counselled patience for foreign insurance companies which had recently opened representative offices in Myanmar.
"Some [foreign] insurance companies which have had representative offices in Myanmar for nearly two decades are still waiting patiently," said the deputy minister.
"They never left us even during the difficult time of sanctions," he said.
The government did not know exactly when it would allow foreign firms to enter the market, said Dr Maung Maung Thein, who is also chairman of the Insurance Business Regulatory Board.
"We are watching, we are observing, we are monitoring our insurance market closely," he said.
When the government believed that the market was ready or needed more insurance products it would grant more licences to domestic companies and permit foreign insurers to enter the market through joint ventures, subsidiaries or branch offices, the deputy minister said.
“My second advice is to cooperate; be cooperative,” said Dr Maung Maung Thein.
Cooperation in the sector would enable it to develop in harmony for the benefit of the economy and industry and the well-being of citizens.
He advised foreign companies waiting to enter the market to contribute to its development by providing training and conducting research on the health, weather index and education insurance projects undertaken by the government.
Participants at the conference included Mr Allen Thai, the chief representative in Myanmar and Vietnam of Prudential Holdings Ltd., who said it would not be a problem for the big British-based insurer to wait another two or three years to enter the market.
"In the meantime, we will take up the deputy minister's advice to help build capacity in local insurance companies and also the IBRB," said Mr Thai, whose company opened a representative office in Yangon in October 2013.
The IBRB, known previously as the Insurance Business Supervisory Board, is responsible for licensing insurers, underwriting agents and insurance brokers.
Financial sector reforms saw state-run Myanma Insurance lose its monopoly in June 2013 when the IBRB issued licences to 12 domestic companies.
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