As part of a concerted effort on the part of the Myanmar government to modernise the country's developing financial sector, a number of recent major reforms have been made. Developments in the banking sector have been particularly noteworthy, as a relaxation in regulation and control seems to indicate the opening up of the industry to more international participation.
Myanmar President Thein Sein has signed a law giving the Central Bank of Myanmar (“CBM”) more autonomy from the Finance Ministry. There has not been any public announcement on the details of the new legislation including the date of its coming into operation, but a CBM bank official has stated that the new law would make the central bank an independent body.
Myanmar will have to adopt rules and regulations governing the country's central monetary authority within three months of the law coming into force. Currently, foreign banks are not permitted to operate in Myanmar. However, the government has indicated that these regulations may provide foreign banks with opportunities to participate in Myanmar's banking industry, in order to attract foreign investment into the financial system. Deputy Finance Minister Maung Maung Thien has said that regulations allowing foreign banks to operate in Myanmar through joint ventures are being finalised. He also shared that the government is considering allowing foreign banks to buy stakes in local banks.
These reforms are part of a series of economic and political reforms advanced by President Thein Sein, who was appointed in March 2011 as first civilian president after nearly half a century of military rule. These initiatives will pave the way for the development of the country’s burgeoning banking sector. Last year, Myanmar re-organised its foreign exchange system to enhance trade and investment in the country.