In late 2014, LASER undertook a scoping visit and undertook political economy analysis in Burma. Although it was clear that there were several areas where LASER could support organisations active in the commercial law and justice sector – spanning from advice on legislative frameworks to strengthening legal capacity – in light of the uncertainty around the state of play within Government, it was decided to await the conclusion of the November 2015 election before deepening engagement.
However, in early 2015 LASER was approached through the Economic Development Legal Information Service (EDLIS) to assist with a review of the draft Investment Law of 2015 that would ultimately replace the Myanmar Citizens Investment Law 1994 and the Foreign Investment Law 2012.
EDLIS was a three month pilot information service programme run in partnership with Clifford Chance. The service offered DFID country offices in LASER countries the opportunity to seek advice from senior lawyers with relevant knowledge and experience on country-specific commercial/legal environment issues. For more information on EDLIS, click here
Through EDLIS, both LASER and Clifford Chance provided comments to DFID and the International Finance Corporation, who were in turn advising the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), the Burmese Government agency responsible for the draft law.
Through LASER involvement, DFID was able to access independent legal advice, informing their discussions with the IFC and subsequently between the IFC and the Burmese government. The IFC in particular indicated that they found access to legal experts able to discuss the law in the Asian policy context very helpful.
Ultimately DICA undertook a further round of public consultation, resulting in both a more consultative process and a better draft law. The law was passed in October 2016.
Following the election in 2015, LASER undertook a second scoping visit to Burma in early 2016. Although an opportunity to support land rights reform presented itself, due in part to the complex political environment and extensive donor engagement led LASER decided to invest funds elsewhere, in accordance with its demand led, problem driven and adaptive approach. For more information on an adaptive approach, click here