With the suspension of relevant EU and US sanctions for 12 months, Myanmar is now potentially open for foreign investment. Financial services is seen as a key sector along with energy and mining.
Albeit a rather limited and basic one, there is an insurance regulatory regime in Myanmar. It is supervised by the Insurance Business Supervisory Board (IBSB), which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance and Revenue. The IBSB was formed pursuant to the Insurance Business Law of 1996 (the Law) and the Insurance Business Rules of 1997 (the Rules).
There are a few particular highlights of the Law:
- The IBSB has a number of duties and powers and a fairly large measure of discretion (see Chapter IV of the law)
- Insurers, underwriting agents and insurance brokers are required to obtain business licences from the IBSB (see Chapter V of the law).
- Persons operating as insurers, underwriting agents or brokers without appropriate business licences commit criminal offences punishable with imprisonment and fines (see Chapter XI of the law)
- Foreign investment is permitted in the insurance sector, subject to government approval (see no.29 under Chapter XII of the law).
There is no express prohibition in the Law on writing business on a non-admitted basis. However, any underwriting agent must be licensed and under the Law both insurers and underwriting agents must have paid up capital equivalent to that of an insurer (MMK 30 million (c.US$35k) for life assurance and MMK 200 million (c.US$235k) for general insurance of which 10 per cent must be deposited at the Myanmar Economic Bank and 30 per cent must be used to purchase Government Treasury Bonds (Chapter IV of the Rules)). Recent comments from senior officials within Myanmar indicate that the minimum requirement is likely to be increased to MMK 6 billion (c.US$7.2m) for life insurers and MMK 46 billion (c.US$57m).
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